Global Change: How Technology and Economic Climate Changes Approaches to Leadership Development

As has already been mentioned on this site, the demand for local and global leaders continues to grow exponentially. Not surprisingly, in a survey of literature to determine how leadership development for adults has changed overtime, it became apparent that global change, specifically, the increased use of information technologies combined with the shifting economic climate has influenced approaches and access to leadership education.

It should be noted here that change is not something embraced naturally and therefore it is expected that there be resistance to the increase in use of technological devices in adult education in general, be them different teaching styles or uses of the internet. “Conservative and strongly traditional institutions may at times struggle to make the changes that are necessary to keep up with the demands…Implementing new technologies can provide solutions to academic issues in higher education” (Stewart, Harlow, & Debacco, 2011, as cited in Johnson & Radmer, 2013, p. 275). In other words, as demands for certain skills and aptitudes go up, institutions are required to use the devices available to them to cater to societal needs and leadership development has been identified as one of those needs.

There are numerous resources available through the internet used in formal and non-formal learning environments. It could be argued that, because leadership development sources are so accessible, informal learning is likely taking place as well. From Major Open Online Courses, to TED Talks, to You tube videos, to leadership presentations posted online, to Blog sites, the resources are endless, just type leadership into a search browser and you are on your way. Even an image search can yield results and spark ideas and understandings of the changing definitions and ideas surrounding leaders and leadership attributes.

This easy access to resources could not have come at a better time. Although there is uncertainty and even controversy surrounding some of these resources the pros tend to outweigh the potential cons, “Whether or not MOOCs are really disruptive technology… they can be a great resource for low cost professional development for your faculty and staff” (Roland, 2013). Again, it is important to recognize here that the demand for professional and personal development is high and that innovation and ingenuity are assets for adult educators and those interested in engaging in leadership development.

Accessibility aside, the internet is not the only resource used for professional development in the context of global change. Nikolou-Walker (2012), who recognizes that, “… the majority of businesses today seek ways in which they can work smarter within the perimeters of their valuable, but, nonetheless, limited, resources” (Abstract), promotes a work-based learning approach to leadership development and concludes that while, “… within WBL, the leadership role is not as “clear-cut”,… The informality of the learning/teaching environment allows the leadership role to successfully “change hands”, without any detriment to the overall learning/teaching taking place” (Conclusion, para. 2). In other words, as new ideas emerge regarding the benefits of different styles of learning facilitation, there is no escaping the skepticism that comes with indications of change.

To close, although non-conventional, the combination of demand, new perspectives on adult education and learning, and access to resources is changing the face of leadership development arguably, and hopefully, leading to the rise of our much needed local and global networks of leaders. Now go google leadership… I dare you;)


Image retrieved from

Johnson, C. S., & Radmer, E. (2013). Making the case for transformational learning through technology-mediated environments. Academic Research International, 4(2), 275-279. Retrieved from

Roland, J. (2013). Harness the power of Moocs to provide staff development in the cloud. Retrieved July 7th, 2013 from

Nikolou-Walker, E., & Curley, H. (2012). An examination, evaluation and analysis of work-based learning leadership within a higher education setting. Higher Education, Skills and Work – Based Learning, 2(2), 186-200. doi:


2 thoughts on “Global Change: How Technology and Economic Climate Changes Approaches to Leadership Development

  1. As you mentioned, entering leadership in google will result in millions of different resources. In a way, this can even make the topic of leadership overwhelming, as there is no one correct response to what leadership is due to constant changes. I think that this gives future leadership training a great opportunity to incorporate learner involvement. As Knowles stated, involving adults in planning education programs will increase their commitment and involvement (Palacios, 2013). It is easy to try and teach adults what a leader is, but actually understanding and applying it is different. If adult learners are given the opportunity to help define what a leader is within their organization or setting, what makes a successful leader, and observe what current leaders do, I believe that it will increase their motivation and involvement to lead in their given role.

    Palacios, C. (2013). Involvement [Course notes]. Retrieved from http:// adhe412may2013/involvement/

  2. Do you think leadership resources on the internet are more effective than teaching leadership in-person? I find that information technologies such as the internet and web searches, there are many different ideas that people come up with and this is also an effective educational tool to use and apply. Through information technologies, an individual may not necessarily have the answer they want, but may provide them some strategies leading to a solution.

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