How to combine digital leadership development activities in effective programmes

How to combine digital leadership development activities in effective programmes

Richard Taylor C. Psychol., MBA
01. Nov 2020 | 5 min read

How to combine digital leadership development activities in effective programmes

Digital technology changes the frame for how learning streams should be structured. The technology itself, and the way we use it, encourage us to spread activities out over time, to be much more ‘to the point’ and to pass more responsibility for learning over to the participants. This creates opportunities to connect the learning to real life, overcoming the transfer problem referred to in  How to make leadership development effective.

 

Two frameworks can make the design of learning streams in a digital world easier.

 

Needs driven

At the top level the organisation’s competence needs should be linked to those of each individual. This is done by understanding the organisation’s needs, how these can be met by the types of tools on offer, how to use and combine the tools in learning streams, and then present them in portals that individuals can pick from.

The figure below shows the elements in the flow an organisation needs to set up to deliver effective digital training:

TOPLEV~1

Find more insight into the areas that make up the model here

Digital tools on offer for effective leadership development: you need to know how to navigate the tools out there!

How to meet participant needs in leadership development programmes: it all starts with needs!

 

Learning streams

The focus in this article is how the various tools an organisation chooses can best be combined in learning streams. The figure below shows an example where material is presented to and processed by cohorts together in sprints. Instead of the traditional 2 or 3-day physical off-site programme the material is presented digitally in many shorter sessions over a period of 2 to 3 weeks.

In-between sprints individuals train their specific needs, applying what they have learned in the sprints in their everyday work life.

 

DETAIL~1

 

The limitations in digital media need to be handled. It is more difficult to keep people’s attention and communication is less rich. Telling jokes and catching the undertones in people’s facial expressions and tone of voice are more challenging. In addition, we have developed a culture of using digital media where we allow our mind to wander, switch channels and surf more than we do when interacting physically.

In dealing with these limitations trainers need to do what perhaps they should have done long ago: be much more to the point in learning objectives and presentations, and make the participant more responsible for their own learning by activating them much more frequently in exercises and discussions.

A sprint-training-sprint-training process, like that illustrated above, is a natural consequence of adapting training for the digital medium. As a guideline, sprint sessions should be much shorter, probably lasting no more than 2.5 hours.

SHORTE~1-1

Presentation of material should be quicker and more to the point, perhaps lasting around 10 to 12 minutes. Each presentation should be followed a structured processing of the information in performing exercises, answering questions, discussing in pairs or small groups. The participant is activated and takes more responsibility for their own learning process, applying the information to their own needs and context.

A sprint then becomes a sequence of 2 to 2.5 hour sessions per day, part new information, part work in learning groups. Content that would have been gone through over 2 to 3 days in the physical classroom becomes a process over 14 - 21 days in the virtual classroom.

In the figure above, the blue line shows the points at which the whole cohort goes through the same process. The green and red lines illustrate the digital tools being used. In the training periods between sprints, where the learning is applied in everyday work, the participants use the relevant tools. On-demand (sometimes called Asynchronous) e-learning, simulations or step-by-step programmes reinforce or extend the learning created in the sprints: The participants use live tools (sometimes called Synchronous) to communicate and support each other.

In this example there is a physical kick-off, specifically designed to build trust and to ensure participants can use the various digital tools being offered. In conjunction with the kick-off participants can run analyses of their behaviour, work up a personal development plan and design a change project to be worked on throughout the learning stream.

We believe that this format can be useful as a frame for all organisations to follow when digitalising their competence development.

We in 100 Days think that including digital support for managers to get a good start in a new role should be a central element in all leadership development strategies. A good start sets up strong performance for the 4.5 years managers are in each role. It could be the most effective form of leadership development possible. Download our e-book to find out more.

Free ebook about how leadership success is created in a new role

Richard Taylor C. Psychol., MBA

Richard Taylor C. Psychol., MBA

Organisational psychologist with an MBA. Broad top management experience spanning many industries, functions and countries, including 10 years with corporate responsibility for HR. Extensive experience as consultant in private, public and voluntary sectors. A number of board positions in the education and culture sectors. Started career as counsellor for drug and alcohol abusers.

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