“There is strength in numbers.” “Many hands make light work.” “No man is an island.”
We’ve all heard these sayings so often that they’ve become clichés. Yet, we traditionally tend to think of leaders as rather heroic individuals: singular, exceptional people who step up, or step forward and take the helm…or the fall, depending on the circumstance.

The model of heroic leadership is fast becoming a relic of the past. As our workforce gets younger, a new paradigm of leadership is emerging: leading as a team or a collective. And eLearning is perfectly poised to train and develop the leadership teams of the future. Why? Because eLearning incorporates social media like webinars and social networks as part of their training structures.

Think about it: we human beings are social creatures. We share. It’s part of our wiring. The human race has been sharing information socially ever since there’s been a human race. In more modern terms, we text, email, post, and tweet our best and worst experiences. We tell each other about our favorite show on cable. Or we talk about the terrible service at this bank or that restaurant. Or we rave about the best place to get organic avocados, bananas, tomatoes, etc. And we subscribe to – and use – technologies that increase our ability to share with an ever-expanding network of social connections. If something (or someone) has impacted you in any way, you’re probably talking about it. And you’re talking about it with a lot of people.

So for this blog on leadership training, we invite you to consider this question:
Does your leadership training and development program allow for team interaction, and learning in a social media network?

Social media/social networking is now a fact of life in developed- and developing countries. The connectivity of the internet provides us with opportunities to share our experiences with unprecedented speed. And so far, social media is an underutilized tool for leadership eLearning. And there is still some resistance to using social media in training programs, particularly among the baby-boomer generation of leaders.

As a counter to that resistance, we offer this rather simple recipe.

Take the emerging paradigm of collective/team leadership. Add the tendency of human beings to share. Blend in the social aspect of eLearning. Roll the mixture out liberally on various mobile or internet-capable devices. And voilá! You get a leadership training and development program that (potentially, at least) serves up leadership success.

Well, the theory is nice. But let’s take a closer look at the practical aspects of social media in leadership eLearning.

Connections in the classroom and beyond.
eLearning is web-based, and learners can access the information individually. But then, learners can use social media to share what they have learned with each other. Peers can now connect with each other, and discuss their ideas, thoughts and insights. Each person experiences information individually and uniquely. And if they can share that unique experience, they can learn as a community.

Learning in a community boosts the effectiveness of training. What one learner may struggle with, another may grasp quickly, then pass on the knowledge to his/her cohorts. When learners work together toward mastering common subject matter, the resulting synergy boosts the learning potential. It also boosts the effectiveness of the leadership team.

eLearning In Leadership Training And Development: Strength And SynergyFrom independence to integration, to innovation.
Another plus to eLearning’s social media aspect is the exploration and innovation that comes with community learning. New ideas emerge as solutions for challenges (both existing and potential), without “reinventing the wheel.” Social media can be built into the eLearning experience. And when there is a built-in structure for the social aspect of eLearning, information is shared more freely. New ideas and solutions emerge. While leaders-in-training receive instruction on the organization’s best practices and policies, they’re also free to explore and discover, leading to innovation. This community approach to leadership development allows for flexibility, which means the organization can evolve and shift as time goes by while also maintaining its competitive edge.

Developing your leaders in a team environment also supports them in relationship and consensus building. As leadership models shift from a single heroic individual to a team or community of leaders, the ability to build relationships becomes even more important. An effective team of leaders will potentially strengthen relationships in the workforce, leading to greater employee empowerment and morale.

Team leadership training empowers discovery of future leaders
Team leadership development can further create an environment where leaders are willing to listen to, and acknowledge, the ideas and thinking that emerges from the people whom they lead. And this allows leaders to create and discover other leaders. Furthermore, the community is better able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the learning group as a whole, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the individual member. Strengths can then be refined, and weaknesses can become areas of development.

So, why not view social media as an investment in the future of your leaders? Especially when you consider that our workforce is shifting toward a generation for whom using social media is as normal as using a phone? To resist that shift is to lock your organization in the past. Far better, then, to incorporate the use of social networking as part of leadership development.

In our next blog, we’re looking at eLearning that takes leadership training and development to a whole new level. As eLearning becomes more and more engaging, blurring the lines between education and entertainment seems to be inevitable. Look for our next article, where we start looking outside the xBox for leadership training and development!

This article was first published on eLearningIndustry.com