In our highly demanding world, there seems to be little time and support for people to reflect on learning experiences and to integrate new knowledge into their enterprises. This decreases the potential value of leadership development programs to the extent that business leadership questions the ROI.
To meet this challenge, many organizations and leading business schools are implementing a learning model for leadership development. This is a learning continuum that extends the leadership learning benefits and value over time, supporting deeper integration of the skills and knowledge into individual performance, business application and bottom-line results.
Taking full advantage of 21st-century learning technologies, this approach provides opportunities to embed learning in day-to-day realities and practices, while it maximizes busy participants’ time in the mastery of new knowledge and behaviors.
When designing an extended leadership development program, one can consider the following elements:
- Learning Community of Practice: All people who have signed up for the program join a learning community that remains in place after the program ends. This network provides opportunities for individuals to share knowledge and build on their joint learning experiences.
- Virtual Classroom Modules: These sessions are used to engage participants with the faculty in discussions, investigation of insights and perceptions and reviewing the relevance of assigned online learning readings and courses.
- Online Courses and Self-Study: Leaders have differing educational backgrounds and levels of prior knowledge. The classroom experience is most valuable for peer exchange and the application of concepts, behaviors and knowledge to real-time leadership and business challenges. Online learning modules, webinars and other self-study guides ensure individual participants have attained a shared level of understanding and knowledge about key topics before they join the group in the classroom.
- Online Assessments: Understanding existing leadership skills and competencies is important in the identification of personal skills and knowledge gaps that drive individual and group learning. Online assessment tools provide opportunities for personal insights and for receiving feedback from many resources.Post-Program Learning
- Managing Individual Goals: Programs only make business sense if individuals can apply knowledge and skills in the workplace that influence business performance. Therefore, it is highly recommended that individuals set specific goals after the program.
- Expand the Knowledge Base: When participants begin to apply knowledge gained from the learning program, they identify specific subject areas where deeper and broader investigation is of great benefit. Specific new learning content is available and targeted to individuals based on their specific needs.
- Executive Coaching: Leaders who are coaching other leaders have limited time available. External executive coaches fill this gap and provide individuals with a structured approach for achieving their personal goals. The executive coach also can be a strong subject-matter expert who helps individuals to lead in new area.
- Learning Community of Practice: As for program alumni, it is very valuable to reconnect with the program cohort through a sharing of post-program experiences by reaching out for input related to specific issues and by leveraging this learning network for new expertise.The design of the extended leadership development program requires a complete analysis of program content and careful review of program goals, as well as building many learning interventions. If done well, the rich learning experience supports application of knowledge and drives home business results.Nick van Dam, Ph.D., is global chief learning officer for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. He is founder of the e-Learning For Kids Foundation. He can be reached at email@example.com.