We’re not being dramatic when we say there is a leadership crisis today. The crisis is real. So real, in fact, that the World Economic Forum lists it as the third most important issue on its agenda. And employees are less likely to trust their management when leadership skills are lacking.

Leadership isn’t born. It’s a group of skill sets that can be taught and learned. But if leadership training and development takes place in a traditional classroom setting, it is likely to be ineffective.

Leadership skills include (but are far from limited to) vision, communication, empowerment, effective risk assessment and management, conflict resolution and organization. And each leader combines those skill sets in ways that are unique to each and every demand on each and every individual faced with the challenges of leadership. And those challenges are unique to every circumstance faced by every organization.

Each of those aspects of leadership can be presented as a nugget, or set of nuggets of training and development. Which means that we can create eLearning modules to train and develop leaders in your organization.

In this blog, we invite you to consider:

Is your leadership training and development program real and relevant to the life of your organization, and the lives of your employees and customers?

Insights and concepts are nice. Theories of leadership abound. Seriously. Google “leadership” and you can read all about it. But actually rolling up your sleeves and leading is a completely different world altogether.

Practical leadership training and development cannot happen when it’s confined to textbooks, lectures and classrooms. And you can’t just unleash a bunch of people on the world with just the hope that their leadership training was adequate. It’s likely that some will step up and succeed. It’s also likely that many will fail as leaders, with devastating consequences: for the individual, for the people they lead, and possibly even for the organization.

Want an effective solution (and please pardon us for the shameless plug)? Here it is: eLearning.

How? Read on.

Knowledge, by itself, does not make a good leader.

Ask yourself the question, would you board an airplane if you were aware that the person in the cockpit knows the principle of flight backwards and forwards, but has never touched the throttle of an aircraft? A physicist can tell you about the theories of aerodynamics, but there’s a reason why there are physicists and people who pilot planes. The same is true of leadership.

Simply knowing about leadership and actually leading are about as different from each other as “lightning” and “lightning bug.” Thinking that vast amounts of leadership knowledge will turn someone into a successful leader is akin to saying that living in a garage will turn someone into a Buick. Theories and insights about Leadership are just theories and insights. Real leadership happens in practice. Leadership involves practical application of the knowledge in real-life.

Enter eLearning.

eLearning takes the learner out of the classroom and puts them into the pilot’s seat, so to speak. With the power of eLearning, leaders-to-be encounter real-life situations that occur in the day-to-day activities of your organization. This makes the training both relevant and real.

Reality and Relevance in Leadership Training and Development

Relevance vs. theory

eLearning allows learners to learn skill sets. For instance, leaders-in-training learn about creating and managing relationships and interactions. They then actually and actively engage in the practice of the theory. eLearning’s use of video simulations and scenarios — based in the reality of your organization’s day-to-day life — empowers the leadership training and development, which is both immersive and safe. And it prepares your learners for actual encounters with customers, clients, colleagues, and co-workers.

Real-life application allows for creativity and innovation

One of the wonderful things about eLearning is that it creates a space for leaders and learners to play the game of “what if…” With traditional, exclusively instructor-led training models of the past, the flow of information typically followed the “we’ve always/never done it this way” pathway. Creativity and innovation had to fight for survival, often getting stifled in the process.

The low-risk environment presented by eLearning lends itself to discovery, especially in the face of real-life challenges. Leaders-in-training are free to apply the principles and values of the organization to those challenges while creating or devising innovative solutions to existing problems.

To reiterate: there’s all sorts of stuff out there about Leadership. Lots of quotes, how-to’s and how-not-to’s. But your organization doesn’t live in Theory-land. It exists in the real world. And eLearning can, and will, bridge the gap between knowing about leadership, and being a leader.

Teaser: look for our next blog on social learning. You won’t want to miss finding out about how eLearning enhances learning by tapping into one of the things that human beings naturally do best: we share.

This article was first published on elearningindustry.com