Sending employees to live leadership training can teach them management skills quickly, but off-site workshops may not always be feasible or appropriate for your employees.

The alternative is offering them leadership classes online. But how well does that work? Is it worth the investment? Even though it can present some disadvantages, we’ve found that online training can be quite effective, even for a complex topic like leadership.

If you’re shopping for online training modules and are unsure of their value, here are some pros and cons to consider.

Advantages of Online Leadership Classes

No Need to Travel

You can pick the programs that are best for your employees’ situations and needs rather than the ones that are closest to you. With online learning, you can offer classes taught anywhere in the world, and you can save your employees the time they would spend traveling to a remote location (which may not even be possible for inordinately busy executives or exceptionally budget-conscious companies).

Low Cost

You can save your department some money by offering your employees online classes, which often have lower tuition fees than live workshops. Employees also tend to incur more expenses at an in-person workshop offsite, which can include food, travel, gas, lodging, car rental, and parking. Plus, your company would lose their productivity while they’re away.

Fit Your Employees’ Schedules

With smart devices, your employees can watch training videos, read materials, and even take assessments while they’re at home, riding the train, eating lunch, or using in-office training time. In addition, if an employee already understands part of a topic, he or she can quickly move on to learning the new information, saving even more time spent on the training.

Immediate On-the-Job Application

You can find training that focuses on the most relevant leadership information for your employees, including strategies they can use in their work right away. Since employees will be learning at their desks or right before or after work, they can try new techniques right away, which will support their retention of the material by helping them to quickly build new habits.

Disadvantages of Online Leadership Classes

Lack of Immediate Interaction with Instructors

Interaction with live trainers is extremely valuable. When students can get immediate answers to their questions, it alleviates frustration and learning delays. Also, when students try out new and difficult leadership skills and concepts, they need quick feedback and corrections to learn to perform better. Unfortunately, most online courses can provide only delayed feedback—if there is any feedback at all.

Challenges with Completion

When employees attend in-person workshops, the format practically ensures that they are exposed to the concepts and participate in the exercises. Online leadership training only requires them to find time to work through the modules—and some employees might fall far behind in their classes and not know how to catch up without neglecting their job duties.

Little Customization Available

Some in-person training can be customized for a specific industry and company. They can use examples and simulations that relate directly to your employees’ job roles. Many online leadership courses are “off the shelf” and cannot be tailored in these ways. Instead, they rely on general principles and examples, which may not be as relevant for your employees.

Less Camaraderie between Coworkers

Your employees will very quickly get to know each other better during a lively, in-person management simulation or team-building activity. Afterward, they may begin to work together better and collaborate with one another more on the job. Unfortunately, that same level of peer interaction is nearly impossible during online courses, although employees taking the same classes may enjoy discussing them in person when they can.

Are Online Leadership Modules Right for You?

Would you and your employees benefit most from taking leadership classes online or from attending an in-person training program? When looking at the list above, you’ll need to decide whether online courses offer more advantages or disadvantages for your specific team and situation.

If online training makes the most sense for your employees, don’t let the potential downsides discourage you. Online videos, assessments, and virtual interactions are all excellent tools for teaching the latest leadership strategies, and all types of training will help your employees perform better—which is good for them and good for the business.

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About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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