But is it really more effective? I'd argue there are several situations when it is.

In-Person Training

By Richard Lepsinger

Is virtual leadership training better than traditional in-person training?

It's clear more organizations are using virtual training for a variety of reasons.

It's more efficient, cost-effective and scalable, which is especially important for large and geographically dispersed companies.

But is it really more effective? I'd argue there are several situations when it is.

Here are just three of them.

1. When It Reflects The Way Leaders Operate

The most effective training is practical and reflective of the real-world environment. Today's leaders increasingly manage virtual teams. They have all the same responsibilities as leaders who manage teams under the same roof, but they face unique challenges, such as coaching from a distance and managing accountability remotely that they rarely see face to face.

Virtual leaders should be trained to develop these skills in the environment where they are most likely to use them. Virtual instructor-led online programs, virtual simulations and self-directed e-learning programs can all offer relevant experience.

2. When It's Collaborative and Interactive

Training from a distance does not have to be a passive experience for the learner. Technology such as video conferencing software and collaborative software allows participants to have face-to-face interactions, view shared screens, answer polling questions, and even participate in break out group discussions.

While some skills can be learned by reading a book or participating in an e-learning course and responding to multiple choice "how would you handle it" types of questions, other skills and knowledge demand a different learning format. When the skill benefits from interaction with others, it's better suited for virtual instructor-led training. This training format is a good fit for leadership skills such as coaching, managing conflict and influencing.

Adding breakout sessions, self-assessments or "homework" that involves practical application offline can also reinforce what they've learned.

3. When You Have a Tight Budget

There's no question virtual leadership training is more cost-effective than in-person training. If your organization has to fly in participants located across the country or around the world, you could easily spend $1,500 or more per person on transportation, lodging and food alone.

Virtual training removes these added costs, allowing your organization to make every dollar go further toward what matters most-preparing your leaders for success. More companies are taking advantage of technology that enables more flexible training options, allowing them to reduce or reallocate their training budgets. On average, companies spent $702 per learner in 2015, down from $976 the previous year, according to the 2015 Training Industry Report 2015. However, while they spent less per learner, companies provided 53.8 hours of training per year, 13 hours more than the previous year.

At OnPoint Consulting, we recognize the importance of preparing virtual leaders for the unique challenges they face in ways that are engaging, cost-effective and scalable. That's why we offer virtual leadership training in a variety of formats, including virtual instructor-led training, self-guided e-learning, simulations and assessments. To learn more about our programs for virtual leaders, take a look at our program guide.

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