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In the previous blog Holding on to Your Corporate Knowledge When Shift Happens, we looked at the shift that is taking place at the workplace. And we looked at the loss of an irreplaceable resource: knowledge. We also looked at how eLearning is empowering organizations in Shift Happens! 3 Techniques for Companies to Preserve the Knowledge of Retiring Employees to capture the experience and knowledge as experts within our organizations are retiring. And we talked about how to transfer that knowledge from those who are retiring to those who are coming into our workforce: the millennials.

In this blog series, “eLearning in Leadership Training and Development,” we’re looking at another challenge facing the workforce of the future: leadership… or rather, the lack of it. This potential shortage of leaders is listed in the Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015 as the 3rd most troubling trend, right up there with deepening income inequality and persistent jobless growth.

If you look at the facts, however, it appears that our apparent shortage of future leaders is based more on a difference in points of view, rather than an actual shortage. Okay, it’s true that there are 10,000 people retiring from the workforce every day. It’s also true that currently, 1 in every 3 people in the workforce fall between the ages of 18 and 34. This makes the Millennial generation the largest group of people in the US labor force. So it’s not about the numbers, folks. There’s not a scarcity in the population per se.

The Internet Generation, Millennials, Generation Y — however you refer to the youngest members of our workforce — are… well, they’re different, aren’t they? Different, that is, from Gen X. They’re certainly possessed of a different mindset than the Baby Boomers.

And leadership itself has also changed with time. Gone are the days when leaders said “jump” and the people’s response was “how high.” Today, the most effective leaders are influencers, listeners, creators of consensus, communicators, and delegators. Effective leaders are masters of empowering others; they identify and create leaders around them. Increasingly among younger members of the workforce, leadership occurs as a team effort, rather than as an individual phenomenon. And this differs — sometimes fundamentally — from the mindset of previous generations.

“The best leaders are … the most insatiable learners,” said John Gardner in 1990. Today, 25 years later, eLearning serves up learning to match any and all of the largest appetites for knowledge. The trick is to create ways to present that knowledge in a way that meets your learners where they are. And that includes the knowledge that is carried by members of your workforce: the same ones who are potentially retiring in vast numbers.

But can eLearning impact an apparent shortage of leaders for the future?

Here’s the simple answer: yes — if we address that future with the creative and innovative use of technology — and knowledge — that is already available today. And since eLearning is one of the most rapidly growing areas of the training industry, it is perfectly poised to deliver leadership training and development to a world that is potentially starving for effective leadership.

While some people show a greater tendency toward embracing leadership, there really is no such thing as a born leader. Leadership is a skillset, available to anyone. In other words, it can be learned. And eLearning can be used to provide the leadership training and development tools to nurture the leaders that are already around you.

In the following posts of this series, we invite you to consider some questions openly and honestly. The questions are intended to help you evaluate and assess the effectiveness of the training and development programs that are already in place. Be forewarned: these questions may require a very honest look at how things are already going in our organizations.

We’ll also outline some of the features of eLearning relevant to the question that we’re asking you to consider. Ultimately, we hope you will look at eLearning newly: as an effective way to discover and develop your future leadership.

Even if you are already effectively utilizing eLearning, you may discover new ways to apply this incredibly flexible technology.

Joel Copeland

Joel Copeland

Joel has been in the multimedia, film/video and eLearning industries longer than he'd like you to know.