For a very long time, online learning, also referred to as e-learning, has been considered an option to train employees but not the option. Many organisations saw it as a way of achieving development objectives when they needed staff to stay on their desks and handle day-to-day work or faced budgetary constraints for programmes that required travel, accommodation and payment of allowances.
Not anymore. The advent of COVID-19, with its attendant restrictions, put a halt to travel for any reason whatsoever as well as the conduct of social and professional activities that created a congregation. For a while many professional development organisations and businesses mulled what to do to continue to work away from the office and implement essential employee development initiatives. It didn’t take long, though, for most of them to figure out that work can continue, supported by virtual engagement. All of a sudden platforms that were seldom used for regular business forums such as Skype, Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams became key to keeping organisational operations running.
The Leadership Group (TLG), was among the leading set of firms to build regular internal engagement via such online tools during the “working from home” era, meeting every Monday at a set time for strategy conversations and over the course of the week for follow-ups and catch-ups. Then we asked ourselves: How about we talk to our clients about the possibility of continuing to work with them virtually so that they don’t fall behind on their employee development initiatives.
We had more purposeful meetings, met with and talked to our clients and even started to work on the idea of a regular TLG Webinar Series. One prospective client we had been talking to for a while asked us to design and deliver a webinar for its senior leadership on the topic: Leadership and Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic -- Remote Management and Leadership of Teams, Work and Meetings. This was none other than the country’s taxman. It was an insightful engagement that not only spotlighted the need for leaders to find solutions for continuing work engagement and productivity but also demonstrated the value of online platforms to the current work environment.
A friend of The Leadership Group (TLG) with significant interests in the hospitality sector called us soon after to find out if we could help out in one of his regular stakeholder webinars with a leadership conversation. We agreed to lead the discussion around: From Surviving to Thriving - Leadership Strategies for the Rebound. With about 70 participants in the “room” this proved a pivotal session in provoking thoughts in respect of what businesses will need to do to rebound successfully after the COVID-19 pandemic is gone, if ever.
Then we launched our “Re-Imagining Leadership” webinar series, a cocktail of topics around the COVID-19 crisis but looking more into the future and the way leadership practices will shift in response to the new reality. Our inaugural session focused on: Leading through a Crisis – Perspectives of a CEO; a deep dive into how CEOs lead their organisations through difficult times and come out unscathed. The session also served as a crystal ball into the challenges CEOs are facing shepherding their teams in this unprecedented time and possible solutions to help them navigate the situation.
A sudden call from an old client, a professional body of engineers, gave us a much needed opportunity to provide online training for their new governing council. This two-day induction programme was titled: Towards Enhanced Governance Effectiveness; and attended by all members of the newly constituted Council. It had all the bells and whistles of a normal face-to-face workshop, complete with opening speeches, breakout rooms and open discussions, among others, only that it was online. Participants were thrilled at the professional and impactful manner in which the workshop was conducted and facilitated.
At this point we were starting to feel comfortable with the transition to virtual engagement and satisfied with the way clients responded to this new experience. So we were quite pleased to get the biggest opportunity yet to run a five-day online programme on: Leadership and Value for Money; for the country’s road sector regulator. The programme brought over 50 participants into the “room” and the feedback after the training was overwhelmingly positive.
We see this as the way development programmes will run into the future and we are continually working on improving our facilitation and delivery expertise in order to create an impactful learning experience for our clients. This is very important going forward especially because in a few weeks’ time, in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch’s Executive Development division, we are running a virtual “Ethical Master Class” for CEOs. The programme is broken down into two-hour daily chunks running over a five-day period in July 2020.
Our webinar series will continue to be a regular offering to our clients to keep essential conversations going around leadership, governance, strategy, digital transformation, innovation and inclusive partnerships. We see the series as a way in which we add value to discussions around issues that touch on people and organisations and provide a pathway to finding solutions to challenges faced by contemporary businesses. To get the recordings of our previous Webinars, please contact Kelly Muigai at firstname.lastname@example.org