Developing strong leadership capabilities is critical for career growth and organizational success. While traditional in-person leadership training programs remain popular, virtual leadership activities now provide abundant opportunities to build skills from anywhere. Virtual trainings eliminate geographic and schedule constraints, allowing leaders to advance at their own pace. This article explores the wide range of impactful virtual leadership activities available and best practices for maximizing their effectiveness.
The Growing Popularity of Virtual Leadership Development
Virtual leadership training has steadily gained popularity as technology improves and remote work increases. According to the Brandon Hall Group, 73% of organizations use online learning for leadership development. The virtual approach provides conveniences traditional methods lack:
- Flexibility – Leaders can complete activities whenever and wherever is most convenient rather than adhering to set program schedules. This allows professionals with hectic schedules and remote workers to still benefit.
- Cost savings – Major cost savings result from avoiding travel and other expenses of in-person training. Organizations can provide more learning opportunities within budgets.
- Scalability – It’s easier to scale virtual trainings across large teams and global organizations through learning management systems.
- Personalization – Leaders can handpick activities tailored to their unique development needs and learning styles.
- Accessibility – More leaders can access top experts in virtual environments rather than limiting events to local venues. Virtual removes accessibility barriers.
- Replayability – Recordings allow revisiting impactful lessons. Leaders also avoid missing key messages like they might in single in-person events.
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Types of Virtual Leadership Activities
Many diverse options exist for virtual leadership development. The most common types include:
- Multi-day virtual conferences mimic in-person events with keynotes, breakouts, and networking. Most use platforms like vFairs, Teamflower, or HeySummit.
- Topics span leadership frameworks like servant leadership and transformational leadership, soft skills like communication and EQ, and strategic priorities like DEI.
- Examples: Global Leadership Summit, Leadercast, fortune Leadership Summit, SXSW Online
- Structured courses with set learning objectives, assignments, quizzes, instructor guidance and peer collaboration.
- Offered through Learning Management Systems like Canvas, Blackboard, Cornerstone or self-paced platforms like Udemy and LinkedIn Learning.
- Subjects range from managing change and conflict resolution to strategic thinking and coaching.
- Live or recorded webinars deliver short virtual lessons from top experts and thought leaders.
- Easy to fit into busy schedules with time commitments under an hour.
- Sources like Harvard ManageMentor, McKinsey, and BCG host webinars on timely leadership topics.
- TED-style inspirational talks from senior leaders across industries.
- Expert panels discuss books, research and best practices.
- Watch pre-recorded or find schedules on sites like Leadercast Now, Big Think and more.
- Books provide extensive leadership knowledge. Podcasts deliver bite-sized lessons during commutes.
- Spans classics like Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last and Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence along with latest releases.
- Podcasts like Lead with Giants, The Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, Women in Leadership and HBR cover diverse topics.
- Immersive virtual simulations replicate real scenarios leaders may encounter.
- Participants make choices through evolving situational dilemmas and immediately see impacts.
- Develop critical thinking, decision making, and situational leadership skills in risk-free settings.
- Self-assessments benchmark skills, while 360s provide broader feedback from managers, peers and direct reports.
- Diverse assessments like Emotional Intelligence Appraisal, Change Style Indicator, Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal.
- Useful starting points for identifying strengths and growth opportunities.
- One-on-one support focused on achieving leadership goals and overcoming challenges.
- Helps hone capabilities in areas like strategic thinking, influence, conflict resolution, and team effectiveness.
- Combination of evaluation, frameworks, encouragement, and accountability.
- Cohorts for sharing leadership experiences and collaborating on solutions to shared problems.
- Groups like Vistage, YPO, and LegaSea offer connections beyond an organization.
- Masterminds focused on leadership like Mindvalley and Experts Only.
Key Skills to Develop Through Virtual Training
The possibilities are endless for what leadership skills you can develop through virtual learning. Focus on strengthening the capabilities most critical for your continued leadership success and career aspirations.
- Skills to set vision, evaluate competitive environments, identify opportunities, define strategic priorities and lead change.
- Connecting, influencing and motivating others through storytelling, public speaking, presentations, active listening and impactful conversations.
- Self-awareness, empathy, social skills, motivation, self-regulation and more for building relationships and leading teams.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Building diverse teams, mitigating bias, cultivating belonging and strategically improving DEI in organizations.
- Leading teams through change by setting vision, building coalitions, navigating resistance and developing agility.
- Solving problems, evaluating evidence and arguments, avoiding bias, and making sound decisions.
- Fostering collaboration, aligning people to purpose, building trust, and developing others through supportive coaching.
- Understanding conflict sources, styles, and triggers. Navigating conflict productively and skillfully reaching resolutions.
- Maximizing productivity through effective prioritization, delegation, calendars, and eliminating distractions.
Best Practices for Maximizing Virtual Leadership Learning
- Identify specific learning goals and target activities accordingly without getting distracted by too wide of options.
- Treat virtual trainings like you would in-person experiences. Keep cameras on, engage with instructors and peers through chat/discussions.
- Capture key takeaways and action items to reference later and implement lessons.
- Learning sticks best when applied quickly. Look for opportunities to practice new skills right away.
- Combine different learning formats like courses, books, podcasts, and coaching for a tailored experience.
- Discussing insights with others reinforces lessons and provides accountability for applying them.
- Provide suggestions to training providers and coaches on what worked well and any improvements needed to maximize future effectiveness.
- Revisit skills through continuous learning over time rather than treating each activity as a one-off event. Progress requires repetition.
- Create dedicated time for virtual leadership activities free of emails, messages, and other disruptions that break focus.
Continue Your Leadership Development Journey
The opportunities for virtual leadership training allow easy access to expertise that can elevate your capabilities. With an abundance of modalities and focus areas, leaders at any stage can find activities tailored to their goals. Mastering remote learning tools will serve you well as virtual trainings become more prevalent across all industries. Stay intentional about strengthening your leadership skills over time through a mix of virtual and in-person learning. Combining focused effort with benchmarks and accountability will ensure you build capabilities to match your leadership aspirations.