When we first proposed to some of our clients that they pivot classroom workshops to virtual training, we got more than a few hasty “No, we’ll wait till we can meet in person again” responses. There was a fear that a virtual training might not be as impactful or as engaging as in-person sessions and that, as a result, it would be better to hold off for a few months than to settle for a virtual experience. However, this kind of thinking is doing leaders and businesses a disservice. For one thing, it is still unknown when it will be safe to return to in-person training. And, once it is deemed safe to return, in-person training will almost certainly look different than it did before the pandemic. What we do know is that postponing training based on a wish for the future will result in a missed opportunity to capitalize on the benefits of remote training.
We are living and working in extraordinary times. It’s safe to say that business leaders at all levels and across all industries have been tested – and will continue to be tested – unlike any other time in their careers. Navigating through the turbulence created by the Coronavirus pandemic requires two important leadership traits: competence and courage.
The inclusion of senior executives in leadership development has long been the summit in program design.
Let’s face it: most leaders learn their craft largely through apprenticeship. Talent Management and Leadership Development programs offer new skills and perspectives at key points in a leader’s career, but the most significant input to how leaders learn to lead is what they see in the leaders they have worked with-- for good or for bad.
During the summer of 2019, we created an infographic detailing both WHAT leaders learn from a Business Simulation and HOW leaders learn during a business simulation.The rapid push to virtual work has made the summer of 2020 look very different from both a work and life perspective. Yet, while so much else has changed, the impact of a business simulation remains intact. The combination of experiential learning and collaborative exercises in which individuals connect and interact make business simulations the perfect solution for a virtual leadership development experience. Business simulations have eight key elements that make them effective in the virtual setting as they drive interaction and create opportunities for feedback and reflection.
COVID-19 has challenged us all to be flexible and adaptable at an amazing rate of speed. Business forecasts that looked strong and growing two months ago have cratered, workloads that were off the charts suddenly disappeared, everyone has had to connect electronically, and a simple handshake is no longer a viable way to greet a colleague or seal a deal. It’s easy to slide into anxiety and be paralyzed by uncertainty, but how we frame this moment in time is a powerful lever to our mental health and productivity. Leaders have always had to be masters at framing their thinking and the thinking of others, but with the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for that capability grew. What’s a Frame? Frames are the boundaries, interpretations and simplifications that we make mentally to understand a situation. We create them instinctively as a result of our experience and the data we take in, and they are particularly valuable in ambiguous or complex situations. We have both reactive frames, which shaped by our emotional responses, as well as proactive frames, which are shaped by logical thought. These mental filters not only help us make sense of a situation but also influence the range of actions we consider. As a result, our frame can be self-reinforcing, which is the powerful insight behind Chris Argyris’ “Ladder of Inference.” Frames are an integral part of processing information and making sense of a situation for ourselves. They are also a valuable tool to help leaders convey information to others.
Strategic thinking is always important; it’s a critical foundation skill for effective leaders. But in crucible leadership moments like the present, it has outsized importance.