“I see you’re listing the Straight Talk for Leaders as an Executive Course. What’s an executive course?”
I got that question more than once after launching. As explained in the need to launch to learn, I overlooked some key details. Despite the energy I put into building something useful, I never explained it.
Allow me to fix that. In fact, I’ll offer an answer, then an explanation.
The short answer first:
It’s a better way for executives to invest in their leadership and prove their value.
The executive course is a structured approach for leaders to learn in their context. To consume information, apply it in their environment, reflect, discuss, and get coached. The flexible schedule takes about five hours a week over five weeks. The entire experience is real. Leaders build their skills with immediate results and lasting success.
I now believe this is more powerful than in-person programs. Keep reading to find out why (the explanation).
Getting over myself to embrace what is possible in online learning
It’s no secret – I’ve resisted teaching anything online until now.
My experience with online courses was less than satisfying. Long lectures, unable to ask questions, and poor examples that didn’t fit my reality. And when I did try to do something in my own context… no one was there to check my work or guide me. I’d get some generic response about how they didn’t know, or it wasn’t in the scope.
I found typical approaches to online programs frustrating. I gave up on most of them. I refuse(d) to follow that approach.
Somewhere along the line my focus on positive mental management kicked in. Instead of saying no because of bad experiences, I focused my energy on exploring how to do it right. I decided to build a course that I would spend my own money on.
In the process, the more I focused on what was possible, the more excited I got.
We have to move past just consuming information
“Why real learning isn’t going to be online” identified the challenge. The typical approach to online training emphasizes the consumption of information.
Presentation and consumption of information is only part of the learning process. By itself, consumption isn’t an experience. We crave experiences. Real learning takes place when we act on the information — with intention.
It’s the experience of applying information, in context, that leads to understanding. Couple that with time to reflect and share with others and real learning happens.
We can do that. We can create experiences.
A better way to learn online starts with structure
The key to online programs is structure. A way to guide the experience, measure, and learn.
Structure reveals substance.
Better, structure guides how to act on the substance. In the process, it reduces friction. Coupled with constraints, structure unleashes creativity and innovation. It offers a way to think, act, and connect with others.
That means using structure to:
- Introduce ideas; chunk up information into digestible chunks, using a variety of mediums
- Provide a safe way to apply the information in context, in your own environment
- Review, reflect, and share; this includes some (group) coaching
Programming a schedule designed for leaders
Like it or not, leaders are busy. As a result, a lot of leaders “don’t have time” to invest in themselves. Usually to their detriment.
I offer a different path. An experience that offers flexibility while keeping everyone moving forward, including:
- Engaging presentation of information (easing the process of consumption)
- Practical exercises to apply the concepts in real situations
- Helpful discussions to share and learn from others
- Useful coaching to elevate performance
- Opportunity to shape the experience
With that in mind, I developed the executive course to take five weeks. Each learner invests about five hours a week. This includes consuming the information, exercises, discussions, coaching, and feedback.
Why five weeks?
Five weeks is just a constraint that feels right. It’s short enough to keep focus and long enough to make a difference. It forces me to distill down to the essential elements a leader needs to get up to speed with Straight Talk.
Are you familiar with the “5-hour rule?”
Ben Franklin invested an hour a day, five days a week in his improvement. Lots of other people do the same. Exceptional leaders and high performance teams invest in themselves.
The design of the experience interleaves mindset, structure, and method across the five weeks. That allows for a flexible schedule while advancing as a group each week. It includes repetitive exercises, enhanced with new insights each week.
This approach creates several benefits:
- Everyone works at their own pace on on their own schedule.
- The structure guides the experience and scheduled coaching keeps people on track
- Five weeks of focused investment is enough to build new skills and habits
The best part is the ability to process, incubate concepts, and review them again as needed. Leaders apply what they learn to their actual situations for immediate value. We can do more, it feels like less, and everyone gets more benefit.
What’s the point if it isn’t real?
One of the challenges of developing training programs is creating real examples. This approach allows us to actually build the examples together.
Each week, leaders share their actual challenges and opportunities. Then we select one or more and tackle them as part of the course. It turns into a real life example with immediate pay out.
It allows me to help leaders get more done during the course. The course enhances work instead of distracting from it.
Weekly feedback allows me to adapt and helps keep us on track.
My conversion: why I’m excited about working with leaders in an executive course
Training gets people fired up. But once they got back to the routine, what we covered often slipped away. It’s the classical tension between training and development.
Offering the executive course goes further than training and jump-starts development. Leaders immediately apply what they learn, discuss the experience, and get better.
Instead of clearing the calendar for an intensive day, we spread it out over five weeks. Focus on doing a little bit each day. Use what we cover in your actual environment. As a result, we can cover more content and engage deeper in the experience. We have time to reflect and explore how it works.
Investing in your leadership and proving your value becomes part of your routine.
But the real gem is the ability to build the skills in your environment. No more coming back from training inspired, only to get beat down by your situation. You get the chance to keep applying what you’re learning and make the changes you need to be successful.
And you get coaching and support each week to ensure you make the progress you deserve.
What about my other training programs and future efforts?
There is no single path. No right way.
I’m excited to offer a way for leaders and executives to invest in themselves. Working through a focused approach over five weeks. A fast way to learn how to get the Straight Talk they need.
It doesn’t stop there.
This approach and experience fuels better in-person events and future online training. This includes self-paced and longer courses that blend more development into the training. In fact, now I want to start testing the blend of in person and online programs to measure those results.
What I embrace now is the opportunity to meet people where they are and offer them experience. And a way to make sense of their experience to elevate their performance.
Want to check it out? Be part of something exciting and have a voice in making it even better?