Leadership courses are a fantastic way to gain new leadership knowledge - there's no doubt about that. Leadership courses have been around for centuries, but however they have really taken off in a big way in the 21st century.
Large companies now invest $Xms per year in leadership development programmes for their senior managers and c-suite executive boards. This area is big business, and high profile leadership 'gurus' and other consultants have been generating very high profits in the years leading up to 2008. However a new entrant has appeared on the leadership courses scene - an entrant which won't make the executive coaches quite so nervous ... or will it?
The elephants in the room are 'Online Leadership Courses'. Despite the internet being around for about 20 years now - only in the last 10 has it been reliable, quick and wide-reaching enough to support company-wide leadership development programmes.
The question is, can a company 'really' outsource all of its leadership coaching needs to a leadership course online? Can an individual learning from a computer screen really learn as much as someone benefiting from one-on-one tuition?
The simple answer is no. The is as predictable and obvious as it was comforting for the consultants.
The human touch, the individualism of coaching courses, and the increased levels of memory retention and participation from the course members means that internet based courses will never be rated as the '5 star' way of training employees.
However this isn't to say that online leadership courses are a bad road to go down.
The bottom line is the bottom line. The costs of online leadership courses, (while not exactly being cheap as chips) are far more affordable than hiring a Guru to talk to your employees. The key winning factor however is that the course can be replicated across a management team of 50 individuals for only a fraction more of the cost. This allows the leadership training vendors to offer incentives for firms to involve as many of their employees as possible in this internal, remote form of training.
This may mean that 'grass root' employees that may once have never had an opportunity to engage with leadership training programmes, can now get their feet wet and start to get involved. From a companies perspective, this can only help the retention of those low level staff who ordinarily face high levels of employee turnover.
There are other benefits of online courses too - they can easily be revisited and revised, which is perfect for delivering the complicated (and often easily forgotten) leadership models/ leadership theory element of such courses. While sometimes being viewed as 'boring' or 'not practical', I firmly believe that this theory has as much a place in modern leadership training as practical hands-on experience does.
In conclusion, I believe that the top level executives will still be given the large budgets to hire the best in the business - the executive consultants that may run up a massive expenses bill, but at the same time will deliver a professional and practical course to your business leaders, however online leadership courses have now presented businesses with the ability to extend the open and exciting attitude of personal development to their entire workforce, which I certainly welcome.