With the advent of virtual reality training technology, leaders now have access to a powerful tool for developing their skills in a safe, realistic and scalable training environment.
Virtual reality leadership training has benefits like providing executives with the ability to simulate complex workplace scenarios, like practicing empathy, lead through uncertainty, establishing trust, and addressing cognitive biases.
In this blog post, we will take a look at use cases for virtual reality leadership training and explore how it can be used to create a more productive, motivated, and equitable work environment.
VR Leadership Training Use Cases Covered In This Blog
Communication skills are critical for managers, as the conversations they have and the manner in which they approach them have a significant impact on your workforce.
Virtual reality leadership training provides an effective approach to helping managers practice and develop their soft skills. With the use of VR technology, managers can practice difficult situations and conversations in a safe and repeatable training environment—this gives managers critical practice repetitions and the opportunity to see the cause and effect relationships of their actions.
This “Conflict Resolution” VR training module exemplifies the difficult conversations managers can practice using VR.
Virtual reality leadership training provides executives with a unique opportunity to practice difficult conversations and scenarios in a safe environment. This allows leaders to experiment with different strategies and approaches to managing challenging situations, without the risk of failure in real-life settings. Managers can also receive immediate feedback on their actions and practice until they achieve the desired outcome. The safe, repeatable environment of VR training provides an ideal space for managers to develop skills like conflict resolution, active listening, and managing frustration.
This “Empathetic Persuasion” VR training module is an example of the workplace situations that can be realistically simulated in VR.
Another key benefit of virtual reality leadership training is the ability to simulate complex scenarios in the workplace that would otherwise be difficult to realistically simulate. This provides managers with the opportunity to experience a range of scenarios, building their confidence and preparing them to handle potential challenges they may face.
Empathy is a critical leadership skill that enables executives to understand and connect with others on a deeper level. It allows leaders to place themselves in the shoes of their customers, colleagues, and employees, helping them to better understand and respond to their needs.
Virtual reality leadership training presents itself as a proven training modality for helping leaders develop and practice applying empathy skills. A VR soft skills training study conducted by PwC found that VR-trained employees were up to 3.75x more emotionally connected to training subject matter in comparison to other training modalities—this is a powerful characteristic of VR training that makes it a great fit for empathy training.
This “Active Listening & Inquiry” VR training module is an example of a VR training experience in which employees practice and apply empathy by presenting them with a simulation in which they must work to understand and affirm their virtual role play partner’s perspective.
Virtual reality leadership training provides executives with the opportunity to place themselves in the shoes of others and experience life from their perspective. By doing so, they can better understand the emotions and experiences of their customers, colleagues, and employees, leading to a greater appreciation and understanding of their needs. This deeper level of understanding can help executives to build stronger relationships and connect with their team on a more meaningful level, leading to improved communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
One of the key benefits of empathy training through virtual reality leadership training is the ability to create a happier and more motivated workforce. By understanding the experiences and emotions of their team, executives can respond in a way that meets their needs and improves their overall job satisfaction. This can lead to a more engaged and productive workforce, resulting in improved business outcomes and success.
The world of work has changed dramatically in recent years, with the arrival of new technologies, the adoption of hybrid work, and new generations entering the workplace. This new workplace environment presents a host of challenges for leaders, including the need to be adaptable and resilient as they navigate uncertainty, promote employee morale, and strive to keep employees engaged and productive.
Virtual reality leadership training presents the opportunity to realistically simulate today’s evolving workplace challenges, putting leaders in scenario-based learning modules in which they must navigate crisis situations and operate with the best interests of the employees and the business in mind.
This “Supportive Leadership” VR training module is an example of crisis leadership being taught using VR. In the module, users take on the role of COO at a fictitious company that is navigating a crisis scenario. In the simulation, the user is tasked with providing support to employees during the crisis situation.
With VR, leaders can simulate crisis scenarios such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, employee misconduct, and other organizational challenges. The interactive nature of VR allows leaders to develop their decision-making skills in real-time and to receive immediate feedback on their actions and to adjust their responses accordingly. By practicing in a simulated learning environment, leaders can gain confidence and be better prepared to handle real-life crises when they occur.
In addition, custom VR training modules can be created to meet the specific needs of different organizations and leaders. It allows leaders to experience scenarios that are relevant to their roles and industries, making the training more practical and engaging. VR training can also be customized to reflect the company's culture and values, helping leaders to develop crisis management strategies that align with the organization's mission and vision.
For example, the crisis leadership scenario in the video features a narrative about a retail coffee chain that is facing financial and workforce challenges from a global pandemic. This scenario could be customized to shift the fictitious business to another industry or crisis situation to align to a company’s unique training needs.
The future is uncertain, and it's essential for leaders to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Virtual reality leadership training provides a proactive approach to leadership development, helping leaders to build the skills they need to lead their teams through uncertain times. By incorporating VR simulations into their development plan, leaders can prepare today for an uncertain tomorrow, becoming equipped to lead their teams with confidence and effectiveness during crisis leadership situations.
Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, and workplace relationships are no exception. Leaders who are able to establish trust with their teams are more effective, and their teams are more productive.
Virtual reality leadership training enables learners to encounter common workplace scenarios and have life-like conversations with a virtual human in an immersive environment. Virtual human characters representative of colleagues or direct reports can serve as role play partners for leaders to practice different trust building scenarios with.
Ken Blanchard’s “Building Trust VR Simulation” is an example of a VR training module designed to help leaders practice trust skills like recognizing trust and restoring trust.
Through simulated role play in VR leaders can practice recognizing the key elements that are needed for establishing trusting relationships with employees. With those elements of trust identified, they can also witness first hand the impact their decisions and actions have on either fortifying trust, or eroding it.
Learn more about recognizing trust in VR: Recognizing Trust VR Training Module
Trust is a fragile characteristic of a relationship, as it takes time and effort to establish, while being easily broken.
Virtual reality leadership training provides leaders with the opportunity to learn how to repair trust when it's been broken. Simulated conversations in VR can put leaders in scenarios in which they must practice establishing trust with an employee whose trust has been broken, giving them invaluable practice repetitions prior to facing such a situation with a colleague or member of their team.
Learn more about repairing trust in VR: Restoring Trust VR Training Module
Using virtual reality technology to practice virtual leadership skills might seem a bit meta, but VR can serve as an excellent training modality for practicing leadership and communication skills in a hybrid work environment.
This “Virtual Leadership” VR training module places leaders in simulated situations where they must lead remote teams and foster collaboration and productivity in a hybrid work environment. It demonstrates how VR can be used to create scenario-based learning modules that teach virtual leadership.
With organizations embracing remote and hybrid work, remote leadership is an adapted skill set that leaders must develop in order to apply leadership and communication skills in a remote work environment.
Using VR to practice virtual leadership, business leaders can learn skills like being present, cultural intelligence, flexibility, and inclusivity—all soft skills that contribute to good leadership in a global workplace with remote teams.
Learn more about teaching virtual leadership with VR: Virtual Leadership VR Training Module
Virtual leadership training is a type of training that utilizes digital technology to deliver training for leadership development use cases like managerial training, empathy training, and diversity, equity and inclusion training. Examples of virtual leadership training include e-learning modules, role play training sessions conducted via video conferring platforms, and virtual reality leadership training modules.
In particular, virtual reality leadership training is an emerging virtual leadership training format that is being used to create immersive and interactive learning experiences. Through VR simulations, leaders are able to practice leadership skills, overcome biases, and develop managerial soft skills in a safe place to fail. The goal of virtual leadership training is to deliver effective leadership training in a highly scalable and flexible training format.
Virtual reality training works by creating immersive and interactive simulations that allow leaders to practice and develop their skills with emotional realism. The VR experience is typically delivered through a VR headset with which leaders consume VR training modules.
VR leadership training modules place leaders in virtual scenarios that are designed to simulate real-life situations, such as difficult workplace conversations, managerial feedback scenarios, and promoting well being for direct reports and colleagues. The VR environment provides a life-like experience that allows leaders to practice these scenarios skills and test their decision-making abilities.
VR training is important because of the advantages it offers for employee skill development and for organizations’ skills development programs. For example, VR training is proven to increase employee confidence, accelerate learning, and reduce training costs—all benefits that make it a powerful learning modality that is becoming and increasingly important tool for learning and development teams.
VR leadership training content can be added to learning and development programs in three primary ways:
Whether adopting an existing VR training content library, creating custom VR training content, or a combination of the two is the right fit for you will be determined by your learning objectives. For example, onboarding for new leaders and training for common managerial training scenarios can be accomplished through off-the-shelf VR training modules given that those are common training use cases.
However, situations where incorporating your company’s unique culture, operations, and circumstances into VR training modules will require custom VR modules to be created for your specific training goals.
VR leadership training provides executives with a safe, repeatable, and effective approach to develop important soft skills that are critical for effective leadership. Through VR simulations, leaders can practice difficult conversations, manage complex scenarios, build empathy, navigate uncertainty, establish trust, and address cognitive biases.
While the leadership training use cases covered in this blog post is not a comprehensive list of every scenario you can teach with VR, we hope our analysis serves as a beneficial thought starter as you evaluate VR for your leadership development programs.