10 Things to Look for in Your Live Online Leadership Development
If your business is faced with a newly-remote workforce, you know how vital it is to have strong leaders in place to get everyone the support they need, nimbly respond to dozens of competing priorities, and keep strategic initiatives moving. But what if your leaders are struggling with this new challenge?
As social distancing has caused huge swaths of the workforce to work-from-home, the number of virtual and remote leadership development programs has proliferated with varying degrees of quality.
How do you sort through these offerings to avoid the time and money-wasters to find the most effective resources to help your leaders build productive teams?
Whenever we ask leaders about the best leadership development programs, we consistently hear that the best leadership development:
- Happens over time, not in one day
- Closely aligns with strategic business goals
- Inspires managers with new ideas and practical ways to improve the business
- Creates lasting change in individual behaviors and positively impacts business results.
Your online leadership development needs to achieve the same game-changing outcomes.
10 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Live Online Leadership Development Program
Every leadership program, whether online or in-person, will be more effective when you’re able to answer these questions.
1. What should change as a result of this program?
Don’t start training until you have a strong vision of what will be different as a result. What behaviors do you want to shift? How will that affect your MIT (Most Important Thing—strategic goals)? Don’t stop at “We need better team leaders.” What does that mean? What will they do differently? Get specific. Work with a training partner who understands your business and who will build a program to get you exactly what you need.
2. How will we include the participant’s leaders?
Training doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You’ll need real buy-in from your participants’ managers or you’ll get a minimal return on your investment. Conceptual support isn’t enough. Managers need insights and specifics about what their people are learning and how they can best support it. This is important when participant’s managers are not sitting nearby. Ask for an executive briefing session before the program begins, so leaders understand the ROI, prepare strategic questions for their participants, and have a clear path to support their teams’ learning and application. Be sure you have the commitment from participant’s managers to give them the time they need to participate fully in the program.
3. How will participants apply what they’ve learned with their teams?
No one wants to feel like an experiment as their manager comes back from training and tries four new ideas without any explanation. You’ve probably lived through a manager who tried a new idea, did it for a week, then forgot about it. That frustrates the team, and the manager’s credibility suffers. Does this program include a process for re-entry? Will your managers get tools to communicate what they’ve learned and to transfer their knowledge? (e.g. if they come back eager to improve accountability, how do they start to hold people accountable if they never have before?)
4. How will we sustain learning over time?
A single half-day workshop doesn’t produce game-changing leaders. Even if you have a limited budget, find creative ways to build live-online programs that combine learning with practice, reflection, and feedback. How will this leadership development program provide daily and weekly reinforcement of key behaviors? How will we know what’s working and where managers are struggling?
5. How will this program provoke new ideas and critical thinking to improve our business?
The best leadership training will fire up your managers with new ideas. Will the program leave them empowered and excited to execute, or frustrated about great ideas that “will never happen around here”? Work with a leadership development partner who understands your culture and how things get done. The best leadership programs don’t just teach skills, they create chances to apply learning and improve the business.
These next five questions are specific to your live online leadership development program.
6. Does the program feature real-time interaction with facilitators and other participants?
There’s no need to settle for a passive, webinar-style training program where people’s attention can drift and multitasking erodes the value. The best online leadership development features live engagement with your facilitators and real-time participant discussions with one another and the facilitators.
7. Does our training partner have experience with live online leadership development?
Online facilitation is different than working in-person. It requires different preparation, different ways of engaging participants, and confidence to work through problems that technology inevitably presents. Participants know when they’re working with a rookie and will quickly lose interest and engagement. Make sure your leadership development partner has ample experience in training and leading remotely.
8. Can our people take part via video?
Video isn’t the same as being face-to-face, but for online leadership development, you’ll want your participants to see one another and the facilitators. When everyone can see one another, it maintains attention, lessens multi-tasking, and gives facilitators and participants the opportunity to respond to confusion, enthusiasm, and questions. Make sure your participants can appear on camera and be heard well. For more tech recommendations, check out How to Take Charge of Your Remote Meetings.
9. Will our online leadership development program leverage technology beyond traditional classrooms?
One of the common mistakes with online meeting technology is to replicate a traditional classroom training environment. For instance, in a traditional face-to-face program, only one person can speak at a time. But when you leverage online meeting tools, you can have small groups meeting simultaneously and sharing their findings, questions, and incorporate with other groups’ feedback in real-time via chat and whiteboards, in ways that would lead to chaos in an in-person situation.
Remote learning also gives you the opportunity to break up your day-long training programs into smaller 60-90 minute sessions over several days or weeks, and increase the amount of application and leadership activity participants can do between sessions. Spaced learning over time with guided application between sessions is ideal for changing behavior, but more difficult when you’re limited to a single day of training. Leverage technology to help your leaders make the most of their training.
10. How will we create the head-space for people to focus on their live online leadership development?
When your manager physically goes to another location for training, it’s obvious that they’re gone. But with online leadership development, those boundaries can blur. Does their Slack messenger still show them as available? What are the expectations for answering phone calls, emails, and instant messages?
To give your leaders the best experience, work with your partner to create best practices in how participants notify their peers, colleagues, team (and remind their boss) that they’re attending the training. You can create a consistent set of guideline reminders for every session that will help people to focus (eg: turn off your email, social media, office messenger – everything but the one way someone would contact you in an emergency).
Live online leadership development gives you a chance to maintain your momentum and equip your leaders with the tools they need to build their teams and transform results – whether your leaders work around the globe or from home. We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment and share: What’s one of your best live online learning experiences?