What does the next generation of leaders expect from executive education?

In many ways, expectations have not changed. Executives seek creative leadership solutions to the challenges posed by their business landscape — whether that’s macroeconomic uncertainty, competition from agile disruptors or digital transformation.

The tools made available by technology provide exciting new ways to change management thinking. In the field of executive education, online learning provides development opportunities far more powerful than anything previous generations of leaders could access.

The role of online programs in executive development

“Generals are always fighting the last war” is a hackneyed phrase, yet it neatly characterizes the backward-looking strategy of some leaders. Modern managers can avoid the trap. The key is to know when you need executive education, and where to source it.

Management programs can be targeted for maximum impact, improving performance in a specific discipline like pricing strategy, or providing broader upskilling to tackle change, disruption or digital transformation.

Yet residential courses can be disruptive in lean organizations; attendees are sometimes distracted by events “back home”. Affordable, accessible online training provides 4 key benefits with out-the-box impact.

1. Online education is global

In our increasingly interconnected world, parochial solutions no longer work. Online training takes the widest possible perspective, locating and deploying management solutions from everywhere. It exposes learners to ideas from a diverse, global group of educators, peers and learning communities. And it delivers these benefits independent of your geographical location.

2. Online programs are flexible

Because online courses are built around the learner, executives can upgrade their skills in innovation or leadership whenever they choose, and at a pace to suit their own style. Remember when you couldn’t be in two places at once? With online courses, exactly where you are no longer matters—even a Wi-Fi enabled Airbus at 37,000 ft. works fine.

3. Online learning is future-oriented

Digital learning responds instantly to the needs of course attendees and the challenges they face, ensuring you learn tomorrow’s lessons, not yesterday’s. You become the general who is equipped to fight the next war.

4. Online courses are first-rate

(Or at least, they can be.) By joining an online program, you choose not just to settle for what is available or local. Pick the right course and you access the best executive education available globally. Online education at IMD, for example, puts you in a one-to-one learning environment with faculty who regularly advance their field with cutting-edge theoretical research and business practice.

The future of Online Education

Undoubtedly, the proliferation of online programs holds risks for “buyers”. When hunting for web-based executive education, where should you shop?

Some providers take a basic “YouTube approach” to delivering online courses: learners watch a video and complete an off-the-shelf assignment. In contrast, the best online education providers use technology to deliver a personalized learning experience.

The future of online learning involves harnessing the web to create forums for virtual group work, personalized feedback from an individual program coach, and peer reviews from compatible participants.

The transparency of the online world — “word-of-mouth on steroids” — helps a savvy executive find a course to match their ambitions, likely including the award-winning online education available from IMD.

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