A new and effective approach to developing leadership skills
In my previous article eLearning: The Solution for Convenient, Effective and Affordable Management Training, I outlined some of the disadvantages to more traditional approaches to developing leadership skills. And I introduced the concepts of both online self-directed and blended (facilitated) learning approaches for developing management skills. But I now want to go a bit deeper into how these approach work, and why I have chosen these approaches for my strategic leadership courses.
In short, self-directed learning allows the individual to progress at their own pace. The instructor provides everything the participant needs to be successful – the learning material, guidelines, exercises and self-assessment tools. Participants then take responsibility for their learning, and work through the material on their own schedule. They can go back to previous sections at any time, and keep working at it until they have achieved the desired level of competence.
Advantage of self-directed elearning for leadership and management training
I believe this is a major advantage over traditional approaches for developing leadership skills for several reasons:
- It doesn’t require taking out large chunks of time to attend courses. With busy work and personal schedules, it can be quite difficult for employees to take several days off to attend a course. With self-directed management courses, participants can fit in short sessions as their schedule permits. They can choose to do it on evenings or weekends if that works for them.
- There is no travel requirement – participants work online from their computer. In addition to reducing the time commitment, this can be an advantage for those employees that are unable to travel due to family or other commitments. And for cost advantage, this can greatly reduce costs for those employees that would need to travel large distances.
- Perhaps the most important aspect is that students can progress at their own pace. Have you ever been in a course where you felt held back because others were not at the same level of knowledge and experience? Or on the other side – have you ever felt frustrated that the course is moving too fast, and jumping over things that you don’t understand?
With self-directed learning, each participant can spend as much time as they need on each lesson. The self-assessment tools will help them understand if they have learned enough to progress, or if they need to go back and review the section. And even after students have completed the entire leadership development course, they can go back at any time to refresh themselves on particular topics. Once students register for the course, they have unlimited access.
How are self-directed courses designed for developing leadership skills?
There are different approaches based on the instructors’ skills and specialization. And there are many different tools! But a professional, online self-directed course is usually hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS). This allows participants to have access to the material at any time on any day (24/7).
My courses are all hosted within an online school called The Strategic Manager, on a platform called Teachable. As a service provider, Teachable manages all the technology and security for my school. They also manage the payment process. This allows me to focus all my time on developing and delivering content for my students!
Structure of my Strategic Leadership Courses:
First of all, there are clear learning objectives for each leadership development course. Participants will know in advance what outcomes they will have as a result of the training.
The course material is then designed to achieve the objectives. I generally break courses out into distinct sections – each with their own specific objectives. Each section includes:
- learning content (videos, reading, etc.)
- Exercises to apply the learning
- A quiz to help students identify if they have met the learning objectives
In some cases, I also include some additional exercises for those students that want to further apply their learning. Where appropriate, I include dialogue boxes where students can share their ideas with other and engage in conversations.
At the end of the course, participants will do a self-assessment to determine how well they have met each learning objective for the course. This will help them identify which areas they have strength, and which areas they need to work on.
And while students are working through the material on their own, I am always available to answer questions via email.
Are there disadvantages to self-directed leadership development?
The main criticism of self-directed learning is that motivation falls completely on the student. There is no instructor telling them what they must complete by when. And there is no external evaluation. And this is certainly a valid concern for many types of learning. But when we are developing leadership skills – self direction is a critical skill that they must learn. So engaging in self-directed learning can be a way to cultivate greater autonomy and responsibility for managers and leaders.
The other problem with purely self-directed learning is that some people just learn better in a group. They need to be able to discuss complex material with others to understand different perspectives. So if this is the case, you may prefer a blended or facilitated approach. That is, a facilitator guides a small group of students through the material. I will talk more about this approach in a future article. But you must consider the balance of your learning style and preference with your need for flexibility.
How do I know I will get the results I want from a self-directed leadership course?
Well as I already mentioned, you are the only one that can ensure your success in developing leadership skills. I have designed the material which you need to learn the skills. And I am here for support when you need it. But I can’t make you sit in front of your computer and do it!
However, we do have a 30-day refund policy. If you do purchase the course and then find out it just isn’t what you need, you can get a full refund within 30 days. So there’s no risk there!
Try out our Learning System with a FREE mini course!
We have developed the NMC Strategic Manager Leadership Learning System to help managers develop the skills that they need to be successful leaders. And we could tell you all about why you should take our courses, but the best way is to try it out! Learn the basics of Strategic Communication in one to two hours with our FREE mini course.