How to Convince Your Boss to Invest in Online Leadership Development

To make a convincing argument to your boss, you’ll need to build a business case for why it’s imperative to invest in online leadership development. This means arming yourself with knowledge and data to show why an online experience is right for your organization’s unique business needs. Here are general talking points to help you make your case:

Identify the Benefits of Online Leadership Development

Online leadership development is more flexible, agile, and impactful than traditional, in-person experiences.

Flexibility is crucial in today’s fast-moving world. Leaders are being asked to do more and be everywhere. That’s why flexible programs are so powerful. They enable leaders to complete programs when and where they like. Online programs also keep executives at work, instead of removing them from their day-to-day duties.  

Given that business strategies change an average of five times in a three year period, organizations need agile solutions. Online programs enable companies to keep up with the pace of business by rapidly delivering skills that match strategic needs. For example, using online programs, a company that switches gears to focus on increased growth can quickly send its leaders through online program focused on innovation, strategy, or change readiness.

The need for L&D leaders to prove the business and financial impact of their learning initiatives is growing. Online programs such as those offered by ExecOnline offer a way to prove ROI. We’ve found that participants in our online programs generate $179,000 in financial impact for their organization.

Arm Yourself with Powerful Data

Prior to discussing whether your organization should invest in online leadership development, arm yourself with powerful data. If you know what company you want to partner with, ask them for information about their programs. Data you should know:

  • Completion Rate. High-quality online programs achieve an 85% completion rate or higher. ExecOnline’s completion rate is 91%.
  • Application Rate. This measures the likelihood that participants will utilize what they learned in their job. The higher the application rate, the more confident you can be of a provider’s solution. We’ve found that 97% of ExecOnline participants apply learnings to their jobs.
  • Business & Financial Impact. As mentioned above, it’s notoriously difficult to prove the business and financial impact of leadership development programs. However, it’s not impossible. We recommend organizations work with online leadership development providers that utilize a project-based approach, meaning that each participant develops a project throughout a program. This enables an organization to track the implementation of the project, as well as its impact.
  • Cost. This is dependent on a number of factors, including the quality of the online leadership development provider. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are free or relatively inexpensive. But their quality is suspect. High-quality online leadership development programs are more expensive than MOOCs, but less expensive than traditional, in-person experiences. We’ve found that enterprises can enroll 6X the number of leaders in ExecOnline programs compared to traditional, in-person experiences offered by universities.

For more questions, read our blog post about questions to ask your next leadership development company.

Align with Business Challenges & Skill Gaps

Before you make your case, identify critical business challenges your organization faces. You can accomplish this through a one-time internal survey that measures business competencies or by reviewing your organization’s current strategic business plan. You might also approach department heads to identify function needs. This will allow you to make the argument that better trained leaders will help your organization achieve its goals.

ExecOnline has worked with more than 200 global organization. Common issues we’ve helped our corporate partners solve include:  

  • Delivering sustained growth
  • Achieving a seamless merger
  • Improving innovation
  • Improving operations
  • Building world-class teams
  • Improving HIPO initiatives
  • Developing effective strategies
  • Delivering digital transformation
  • Improving succession initiatives  

Suggest a Way Forward

You don’t need to have a fully fleshed out plan, but a few suggestions will help your boss invision how your organization might utilize an online program. You might, for example, identify the level of leaders who would benefit the most from an online program, as well as offer a timeframe and projected benefits. Using data from more than 10,000 business leaders, ExecOnline is able to accurately project the financial impact of our programs, providing our corporate partners with a valuable decision-making tool.

Leading businesses need robust leadership development programs to keep up with competition. Online programs enable businesses to rapidly develop their leaders. Use these tips to bring online leadership development to your organization.

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