Online leadership development courses offer benefits for busy managers. They can build on the latest insights, tools and techniques. However, there are also several challenges. There may be a need for more relevance in the content. Some ideas need to fit more readily with current thinking. A lack of human contact can also be a problem as there is less opportunity to reflect on options. It’s, therefore, crucial for organisations to evaluate online leadership courses against specific criteria. If the program can be tailored to requirements, it is more likely to succeed. Online leadership development courses offer cost-effective, positive solutions that will bring lasting benefits. However, experience suggests that the process will achieve more when content is tailored to the organisation’s requirements. The pace of delivery is also essential. Each module in a leadership development course needs to be sent at regular intervals, possibly every week, and the overall process should form part of a broader initiative. It may be linked to leadership development workshops or face-to-face coaching sessions.
There is value in mentioning the organisation’s leadership ‘focus’ and competencies in the course content. This improves the relevance of the process and helps set the material in the relevant context. However, it’s possible to go further by using an initial work preference questionnaire. This can explore aspects of the manager’s current work behaviour and motivation and enable individually tailored content to be included in each course module. There are many options available. A further possibility involves linking the online leadership development course with 360-degree feedback. Managers then become more aware of the expectations and requirements of direct reports, colleagues, business partners and stakeholders. An exciting feature of cmi level 4 is the opportunity it creates for establishing a dynamic, ongoing process. Essential themes of authentic leadership, for example, involve openness, transparency and receptiveness to feedback. The process can also address practical steps relating to Purposeful Conversations.
This all contributes to improved analysis, interpersonal effectiveness, and delivery of outstanding results. Concerns are sometimes expressed that an online leadership course is static and needs to address real-life issues. However, these problems can be overcome by ensuring that the content of modules is agreed upon at the start of the process. Participants’ motivation is also significantly strengthened by providing that each module includes individually tailored content. This means that preferences on essential dimensions, e.g. Leadership Focus, can be presented graphically, and comparisons made to the typical scores recorded by effective managers/senior professionals. Delivery of each module should also be automated, so the administration is kept to a minimum. Additional coaching, either face-to-face, via the Internet, or in the form of workshop events, helps connect online learning to clear goals and practical action. Regular review meetings between participants and their managers also build commitment to the overall process. Content is tailored to meet specific requirements and identifies individuals’ work preferences based on an initial questionnaire.