Guido Helmerhorst
Founder & CGO

Be in the learning zone

The setting of many Leadership training courses is hurting the very purpose of that training: learning. The classroom can be really beneficial but also do great harm because it isn't necessarily a safe environment to learn. It is often a setting where one has to perform while learning is all about making mistakes. To be able to do that we must be in a place of support, not a place where you run the risk of being mocked for falling and not being applauded for getting up again. It is time for new methods. It is time to introduce VR into the arena.

Leadership and people skills training need to switch zones. Let me explain and start with describing a situation many of us recognise.

It is a cold and frosty day. Traffic was horrible and public transport wasn't any better as you just heard from the 2 colleagues behind you grabbing the much-deserved first coffee of the day. Ah, and there are your other colleagues in the far corner, you wave. The atmosphere is friendly but tense, there is excitement in the air. Mark and Shareen are already annoyingly loud, overpowering everyone else with their pitch-high voice, you didn’t know that never-ending cackle already started that early... It read “Leadership: Transform the Norm” on the monitor in the lobby showing that all participants were expected in room “Eisenhower” on the 1st floor of this conference hotel. Eisenhower... how telling, you heard yourself say. You are looking forward to learning some new tips and tricks to help yourself and your team excel. However, what you are not looking forward to is the know-it-all Debby, the thorny remarks, and all those piercing eyes during the role play you saw on the agenda. The trainer should be good, you read some good reviews, just have to wait and see how this group of frogs is being kept in the bucket... Ah, the good old bell rings... It’s time...

This describes Leadership training as we know it, before Covid. (and now during Covid, it is virtually all theory and no practice. Which is another blog post.) The experience is, of course, different and a degree of better or worse every time and for everyone, but the fact is, that these face-to-face training days are is seldom a truly safe place for learning.

The status quo for these classroom training is that it has to be considered a Performance Zone. A place where status matters, a place where doing-it-wrong can have a consequence outside of the 4 walls of the Eisenhower room, a place where you need to perform, to show that you can do it, that you know how to do it. Sure you need some pointers here and there, but this zone is all about not falling flat on your face, not to look too dumb or inexperienced, because people are watching and often not without judging or using it for at the office gossip.

And that needs to change.

We need a world with capable leaders, we need companies with exceptional management, we need leaders to be better. We need people to develop their own leadership, as a process, a journey, always considering the ever-changing world around them.

What we need to do is to leave the Performance Zone when learning is the purpose because it is counterproductive, it reaps the wrong results, and harms the development of our much-needed leaders and leadership. Establishing a place where actual learning can happen requires new ways and methods.

At Warp VR we are working hard to enable those leadership training safe zones, through the use of Virtual Reality (VR). Our approach to VR provides very rich real-life experiences where you can learn by doing without the fear of being watched and judged. We are building a leadership program with different modules and themes which trainers can use in and outside the classroom. An added benefit is that in these times of a pandemic you can train IN situations anytime, anywhere you want and therefore make it part of your digital learning offering. Want to know more or experience it for yourself? Please reach out.

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