Gone are the days of only classroom-based, instructor-led learning. The societal shift to the creative economy coincides with the rapid growth of online, competency-based education and virtual learning tools, applications and methodologies. Leaders of every institution, whether public, private or not-for-profit, also need to consider making this shift, thus becoming more flexible and adaptable.

Competency-based education identifies explicit learning outcomes and applications for each knowledge area as well as measureable learning objectives that empower students, wrote Michelle Weise in a recent Harvard Business Review article. She also said that, for current and future employees of business, a competency-based approach means a flexible, personalized and self-paced approach to learning that is customized to their needs.

And what about business and government leaders? In a recent Harvard Business Review Education post, Kenneth Mikkelsen and Harold Jarche state that, “The Best Leaders Are Constant Learners.”

However, in today’s creative economy, leaders need to be able to quickly scan the world for change and react immediately without getting bogged down in the details. According to psychologist Howard Gardner, we currently live in a world that requires a type of searchlight intelligence, with the ability to connect the dots where others see no possible connection.

In order for leaders to navigate the rapid shifts in society and business, they must draw on their ability to change their way of thinking, learning, doing and being. Reinvention and relevance is critical, and leaders must become comfortable with living in a state of continually becoming and be receptive and able to learn.

According to Mikkelsen and Jarche, as we prepare for this transition into a networked creative economy, leaders must promote and enable learning and master fast, relevant and autonomous learning themselves.

Moreover, learning has become a business-critical priority for increasing skills, improving the leadership pipeline and enhancing employee engagement and retention — one of the biggest challenges cited by respondents in Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends 2015” survey. Yet, according to the study, more companies than ever report they are unprepared to address this challenge.

How do companies meet this challenge? What is available that meets the needs of learners and business alike? How does one respond in a flexible, fast-paced, relevant manner?

This is accomplished by offering training and education that meets the evolving needs of business, incorporating flexible learning platforms: on-demand, virtual, in-person, blended (combining both online and in-person components) and flipped classroom methodologies (learners complete case studies and assignments before training begins), as well as shorter learning cycles by use of webinars, YouTube, TedTalks, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and the like.

As an example, a large government agency like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has its own FDIC Corporate University and uses Adobe Government at Carahsoft, virtual and in-person learning platforms.

Laurie Hedlund is director of the Government Contracting Institute with TargetGov (www.GovernmentContractingInstitute.com). She can be reached at 866-579-134.