Some company CEOs doubt the benefits of executive education (ExEd) programs. But where does this cynicism come from, and are they right to be skeptical?
It’s true; there are executive education programs that over-promise and underdeliver. They focus on lower-level managerial skills development, teaching what their highly-experienced and knowledgeable audience already know. But not all executive courses are a waste of time—far from it. A well-run program centers around transformational leadership strategies, not skills building. That means the vision, attitude, and skillsets needed to transform organizations.
This article explains what you should look for in executive education and senior leadership program, and how to choose the right course provider. That means educators who teach how to improve executives to provide transformational leadership for their organizations.
Why Executive Education Gets a Bad Rap?
The reasons ExEd has earned a bad name is a twofold issue: one part client and one part program. For example, a business may hire a great facilitator but the provide the wrong course. Or, a provider might exaggerate their program and try to educate their audience on subjects beyond their specific expertise. But choosing the right educational offering for the right audience is never a waste of time or money.
Executive Education on the Rise
Despite the reluctance senior leadership training has garnered, employers in the US and globally expect to increase their education budgets. That includes more investment in executive development programs post-pandemic. But traditional executive education is no longer relevant.
Instead, today’s focus areas are advanced leadership training, digital transformation, and workplace diversity. These are the findings of a 2022 chief learning officer (CLO) survey conducted by the FT newspaper .
The hybrid approach to working is also changing how we learn. This chart data shows the sharp rise in blended learning, a mix of online and in-person study, when it comes to professional development.
Successful Companies Educate Executives
The best leaders never graduate from learning. Instead, they understand the need for continual improvement to effectively lead in an ever-changing business landscape. Traditional executive education no longer meets the needs of today’s senior leadership. Those dated programs are not equipped to prepare executives for present-day and future challenges and smart businesses are wise to avoid them.
Updated executive coaching programs are flexible and tailored to the person or teams they teach. Customized learning is how today’s leaders and organizations transform business. The right programs also incorporate broader trends in the market or changing landscape, to help leaders stay current not only on today’s challenges, but prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Targeted ExEd Shapes Leaders
Proper executive education prepares an organization’s senior leaders for change, economic upheaval, and potential burnout. Transformational leaders are visionary, engaging, inspiring, and team-centric. They are also emotionally intelligent and collaborative . Below are five typical characteristics of leaders who embrace` executive education programs.
#1 Personal Balance
Balanced leaders are more content, cooperative, and productive. The executives who develop personal balance intuitively know where to focus their energies and how to engage for maximum effectiveness. Most executives understand the importance of balance, though it rarely comes naturally. But transformational leadership training can teach you how to achieve personal balance and leverage the power into high achievement.
Motivated leadership plays a significant role in a company’s success and employee satisfaction. And few things are more essential to an organization than a motivated workforce .
Motivated leaders garner the attention and respect of those around them. That makes the task of leading others to confront challenges and overcome difficulties much easier. Often by example, motivated leaders bring out the best in people, especially in uncertain and challenging situations.
Teams and individuals are keen to learn from and follow motivated leaders to meet high expectations and realize goals. A leader who is able to stay motivated, and help motivate others, in the face of difficulty is a boon to their organization. These transformational leadership capabilities are invaluable in today’s highly competitive and fluctuating work environment.
#3 Navigating Organizations Through Uncertainty
The expectations of modern leaders are a far cry from those who went before them. Today, you must manage uncertainty and know how to maneuver the relentless pace of change. Being grounded amid shifting goals and tight deadlines requires well-honed navigational skills. True executive education is not only concerned with passing on knowledge; it’s also about transforming minds and accountability.
Leadership navigation is an acquired discipline to make you think about what change tasks to engage in and when. Thus, knowing how to traverse the complexities caused by a company’s transformation is an invaluable trait.
Proper ExEd teaches leaders how to inspire those they lead. Leaders can no longer rely on the power and authority of their position to carry the weight of their orders. It’s an old approach that today’s workers are quick to reject. In a worst case scenario, this outdated leadership practice can actually drive talented employees seeking a better work experience to competing organizations.
A better way of encouraging teams is to lead by example, and a transformational leader has the ability to inspire others. As a result, leaders can foster mutual trust in a motivated workforce and create genuine desire to follow your lead.
Inspirational leaders use intellectual stimulation to challenge and encourage team members to be innovative change-thinkers. Your influence makes you a positive role model and energizes those around you. These things combined improve company culture and afford clear direction for your organization.
Choosing the Right Executive Education Program
Too many companies have bought into the wrong executive training programs. These poor experiences are why many senior leaders are reluctant to try again to invest further in coaching. But you should know the right executive education courses help improve ROI in today’s ever-evolving industries. This section covers how to avoid making the wrong choices.
Be Specific, Cover Your Needs
Human resource departments often buy into course titles and their general descriptions. It may well be the “best business education program,” but best at what? For example, a course on basic business management skills is no use if you need a more advanced, tailored solution. Being specific in the search for executive education ensures you invest in programs aligned with your people and organization. And there are several factors to consider when making an informed decision.
EWF’s Corporate Programming for Executives
EWF offers comprehensive, custom corporate programming for company executives. Our leadership development ecosystem helps you to become truly transformational. EWF’s experts design leadership development and strategy-building programs that work. Moreover, our programs hold you accountable to ensure follow through on our training and positive results.
Does the course need to come to you, or should you attend the training facility? Or maybe a combination of the two? The best training and education companies use multi-modular systems to accommodate learners’ needs. Review and decide on the training schedule that meets your expectations. Then, ensure the providing company can accommodate those needs.
Reputation Is Everything
An impressive website or downloadable brochure will praise the company and its offerings. But a polished presentation doesn’t necessarily mean a professional operation. That’s why it’s vital to check a provider’s reputation and specific areas of expertise.
An established executive educaton provider is able to provide reviews, ratings, and testimonials that highlight the benefits of their offerings. In this case, that would be the comments and opinions of those with first-hand experience of a particular program. It’s worth doing this even if someone you trust has referred the educational service to you.
Review the Course Content
Prepare to take notes, as you may still have a few unanswered questions by the end of this critical phase. Look past the course title to the course’s content and see how the program aligns with your professional development needs.
ExEd for transformational leadership should include modules that touch on the five specific areas we highlighted previously. Offerings should also provide some insight on how the course will help leaders execute this knowledge to the benefit of their organization.
Check the Mentors
Executive education programs are only as good as those who teach them. So. always do a little research on the coaches, instructors, and facilitators. You may have read about the educators when you reviewed the company.
Even so, you should check the current lineup of instructors. Look at their backgrounds and experiences that will benefit your company’s objectives. Are they established and well-known for their areas of expertise? A thorough vetting of your selected course’s instructor(s) will go a long way to ensuring it is a good investment of time and money.
Positive Effects of Executive Education
Let’s finish this piece by recapping the positive effects of ExEd. For today’s US companies to succeed, they need the help of change agents. Few leaders naturally possess the characteristics and an innate ability for transformational leadership. Even then, all leaders benefit from additional development to serve as change agents through targeted educational programs.
For most in senior leadership, targeted executive education is the best approach to improve critical transformational characteristics. Through the experience you will develop a new way of viewing things and respond well to change and challenge. And you will be able to inspire your team to work as one when you need them most.
Benefits to Groups and Individuals
The new way of educating executives benefits individuals, teams, and organizations, and that’s the point. Transformational leaders inspire and encourage organizations and as an effect, reduce employee turnover. They boost motivation and workplace morale, which are at the heart of all successful business operations.
Leaders who embrace change also bring these values to the table:
The ability to rapidly build trust
Better workplace communication
Build solid, lasting relationships
Embrace ethical work environments
Improve workplace culture
Thus, tailored executive education programs pay off in a multitude of positive ways.
Highly relevant executive education is a wise investment in both time and money. The presence of a practiced transformational leader brings rapid, positive change to your organization. Additionally, well-trained leaders radiate high energy, passion, and an enthusiasm that drives the company forward.
EWF’s Corporate Programming for Managerial Skills
Needing for leadership development for early- to mid-career employees? Consider EWF’s corporate programming for managerial skills. Our expert coaches and programs will help develop your company’s talent pool into a diverse and strong leadership pipeline. We use proven, actionable, custom corporate programming with an emphasis on accountability. Contact us if you are ready to equip and empower your company’s leadership for modern challenges.