Hybrid Leadership Development Will Get Your New Leaders Blooming Faster

By Karen Schmidt


Are you still offering traditional leadership development programs and wondering why you aren’t getting better results? Have you updated the content, hired new trainers or adjusted the delivery schedule hoping for a boost but nothing has changed? Maybe you’ve implemented a Blended Learning or Flipped Classroom model but are yet to see any improvement. Then what you need is to apply a valuable lesson from the gardening world and learn how to use the power of the hybrid.

In the gardening world a hybrid is created when two different plants are cross pollinated. The aim is to produce an offspring that contains the best traits of each of the parents. Some examples include Broccolini (a cross between Broccoli and Kai-Lan producing a long stemmed floret), Meyer lemons (a crossed lemon and mandarin with sweeter fruit), and the Pomato (which produces tomatoes on the top and potatoes underground!).

In the world of workplace learning many people believe that Hybrid learning is the same as Blended Learning or the Flipped Classroom model but I disagree. Blended Learning describes any program where people learn at least in part through delivery of content online with some element of control over the time, place or pace before going to a classroom situation. In the Flipped Classroom model the typical content delivery and application elements of a course are reversed. This means short video lectures are viewed by students at home (ie self paced learning) before the class session, which is devoted to simulated application exercises.

A Hybrid program does more than Blended Learning or the Flipped Classroom, which often just take the material normally delivered face to face and put it online but still rely on a trainer standing in front of a group in an artificial environment.

I believe a true Hybrid program is a combination of self paced learning, based on a set of competencies, and coaching. The goal is the same as the hybrid plant, to combine the best aspects of each approach to create a third option, which improves on the originals. The key benefits include:


Encourages reflection
With self awareness vital for the modern leader this is an excellent way to get them into the habit early in their careers. Coaching is a method that relies heavily on reflection, with the coach encouraging the learner to review their actions and reactions on a regular basis to become more aware of what works and what doesn’t.


Allows for practical application
The Hybrid program works on the basis that learners complete self paced learning, reflect with their coach and then decide on an action plan to try out new ideas in the real world before a debrief in the next coaching session. This is far more effective than simulated classroom experiences that don’t take into account the nuances of each leader’s circumstances and can seem removed from their real world, day to day challenges.


Provides support
There is a strong emphasis on support for the learner when coaching rather than content delivery. They are encouraged to ask questions and seek clarification allowing the coach to see where they need support. As there is usually a relatively short amount of time between coaching sessions, the learner is not left to their own devices for long. When used in a group setting, learners can also support each other as they are more aware of the challenges each person faces.


Is customised to the individual
Whether you are using individual or group coaching, there is an opportunity for the learner to focus on the areas that interest them, to learn using methods that suit them and to apply that learning in a way that is relevant for them. A Hybrid program should not be about everyone doing exactly the same thing at the same time. In fact, by having each member of a group choose different application methods it can allow everyone to learn from the experience via the debrief process.


Highly flexible
This model allows the learner to visit or revisit topic areas as required so that what they are learning is closely linked to what is going on in their role. That way they get what they need when they need it allowing instant application and increased understanding. Even though the program is based around a set of competencies, unlike coaching used alone, there is the ability to rearrange them or provide extra coaching sessions for individuals as required.


So how does this compare to your current program? Can you see how a Hybrid program can help your new leaders start growing faster and stronger? What changes do you need to make in your existing program to start using the power of the hybrid?



Karen Schmidt from Let’s Grow! is the frontline leadership expert. As a speaker, coach and facilitator she works with frontline leaders and the people who develop them.

Her mission is to grow frontline managers into frontline leaders so they perform better, which improves team productivity, giving senior leaders peace of mind.

To learn more about her services visit http://www.letsgrow.com.au

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