From “WCTC program will develop business leaders” — To “transform how leaders lead” and strengthen southeastern Wisconsin’s corps of emerging executives, Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) and the Innovative Leadership Institute are piloting an experiential, customized approach to leadership development with an emphasis on real world application.

Through the Leadership Development Program, launched in June by WCTC’s Center for Business Performance Solutions and the Innovative Leadership Institute, instructors Christine McMahon and Joseph Weitzer, Ph.D., aim to equip emerging leaders with tools and skills needed to meet companies’ performance expectations.

While McMahon, a business strategist and a columnist for BizTimes Milwaukee, and Weitzer, dean of the Center for Business Performance Solutions, will incorporate class meetings and one-on-one coaching into the format of their program, much of their approach to leadership development will defy traditional learning models.

“In a lot of learning programs that you participate in, you have materials that you have to learn and absorb and then you have to figure out, ‘How do I apply it in my world?'” McMahon said. “In our program, we’re immersing (participants) in the real world so the ‘a-ha’ moment happens when they take the journey inward.”

The Leadership Development Program, targeted toward professionals likely to move into higher executive positions as well as leaders who are underperforming, will walk participants through an experience-based immersion process to gain firsthand perspective on basic leadership principles.

The 12-month program, capped at about eight participants, will push emerging leaders to identify and examine leadership tenets through the lens of their own workplace experiences. By discussing leadership competencies within the context of their own environments, emerging leaders will remain grounded in the real world while absorbing a diversity of perspectives and engaging in a continuum of self-reflection.

“Through our guided discussions and interactions, they’re going to raise (leadership principles) on their own,” Weitzer said. “We’re going to get them there.”

Part of the honing process will require program participants to reframe their focus in order to accelerate the learning process during individual experiences.

“A lot of what they learn they learn by doing and making mistakes around,” Weitzer said. “The problem is that learning isn’t happening fast enough. So if I make a mistake I could move past it simply because it just happened, or I can learn from it. But if I’m not focused on the right piece of learning, I don’t develop as a leader and I’m more likely to make that mistake again.”

The program’s curriculum comprises 32 pre-developed learning modules zeroing in on critical leadership topics such as effective and persuasive communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, negotiations, and presentation strategies.

Emerging leaders likely won’t cover all 32 modules as McMahon and Weitzer tailor learning outcomes to individual participants to propel them forward with the rest of the group. They will also customize learning outcomes to fulfill the expectations of participants’ companies.

“So when (participants) go back to their organization, we’re not teaching them something the organization doesn’t support,” Weitzer said. “We’re teaching it in alignment with what that organization is expecting of their leaders.”

To identify the needs of both companies and program participants, McMahon and Weitzer have created an initial assessment that surveys organizational leadership about the dynamics of their operations and potential participants about their leadership abilities and aspirations.

“Through the assessment that we do upfront, we’re going to be designing the curriculum to meet the unique developmental needs of the participants,” McMahon said. “So every one of our leadership development programs will be different because it’s going to be based upon what they need.”

The assessment, phase one of four, also helps determine if an individual is an optimal match for the Leadership Development Program. The established phases round out with Authentic Leadership Architecture, Transformation and Integration, at which point emerging leaders take their lessons back to the boardroom.

To ensure each participant receives constant support throughout their personal leadership development, they will be paired with a mentor from within their organization. Mentors, selected and counseled by McMahon and Weitzer, will act as another resource for emerging leaders as they attempt to implement learning modules into the workplace.

“From the organization, itself, they still have responsibility to help this leader develop,” Weitzer said. “They play a role, a very significant role, in that development.”

The Leadership Development Program forms the first pillar in a broader leadership initiative to bolster innovation and support organizational development as a whole. The initiative was born from a series of needs assessments conducted by WCTC’s Center for Business Performance Solutions that highlighted a demand for quality, skilled leaders in the region’s business sector.

McMahon and Weitzer plan to roll out a second stage of the initiative, titled the Innovative Leadership Institute, that focuses on strategies to mold an innovative leader. They will also roll out a third stage exploring ways organizations can pivot to embrace innovation as part of their corporate culture.

Both stages, which will likely be available in 2014, are rooted in exceptional leadership.

“You can’t have innovation without good, solid leadership,” Weitzer said. “You can’t have good organizational structure that’s sustainable without good leadership. Our approach here is, ‘Let’s build a cohort of strong leaders.'”

The Leadership Development Program, which reinforces the Center for Business Performance Solutions’ mission to help companies build a strong workforce and advance productivity, costs $2,900 per participant. The program will debut its first formalized session this August with a second following in October. For more information, visit

From “MATC proposes to train department heads” — Columbia County Supervisor Sue Martin had a blunt question: “How do you teach an old dog new tricks?”

Mike Baldwin replied that the Madison Area Technical College’s Center for Community and Corporate Learning can, indeed, help Columbia County’s department heads maximize their skills in leadership and management.

Baldwin, assessment facilitator for the training program, fielded numerous questions — some as blunt as Martin’s — at a meeting Wednesday for the county’s department heads and the supervisors who are chairs of the County Board committees that oversee various departments.

County Board Chairman Andy Ross said the county’s 2013 budget includes about $20,000 for leadership training.

Such a need was identified for managers in the county’s highway and transportation department, in a 118-page report from Baker Tilly, a Madison-based consulting firm that has spent the last several months analyzing the department’s operation.

But all of the county’s departments, and even experienced managers, should benefit from leadership training, Ross said.

“We put a lot of money into buildings and things like that,” he said. “But one of the optimal aspects we have is you folks. We should be doing some investing in you.”

Baldwin and Barbara Martin, outreach training liaison for the MATC program, spoke to the County Board’s executive committee earlier this month, and laid out a proposal that would entail:

• Meetings between county department heads and representatives of the MATC program, starting at the beginning of next year, to assess each department head’s strengths and weaknesses in management.

• A report in February to the executive committee, regarding the results of the assessments and a proposed list of training topics.

• Training in leadership and management, to start the first week of March.

The proposal must get approval from the executive committee next month before the assessments can begin.

Ross had been the outreach training liaison for the MATC program until his June 2011 retirement. He noted Wednesday that he would receive no financial benefit from the county paying MATC for the leadership training.

Ross said he recommended using the MATC program because of its success.

Baldwin said private-sector entities are the main users of the program, though the state of Wisconsin has used it. Columbia County would be the first county government body to utilize the program’s management training, he said.

Barbara Martin said the proposal for management training indicates the value that the County Board places on county department heads.

“Columbia County is taking you seriously,” she said, “and wants to invest in you.”

Susan Martin, chairwoman of the County Board’s human resources committee, said her 30 years of experience in human resources in the private sector has shown her that management training programs work best when they include an assessment of the organization’s overall effectiveness.

“This is a very tight timeline,” she said, “and I don’t recall any attention being paid to the overall organization.”

Also, she said, it may not be the department heads who most need leadership training, but rather the lower-level managers in some of the county’s larger departments.

Supervisor Fred Teitgen, chairman of the County Board’s planning and zoning committee, asked whether the assessment conducted before the training could offer insight into the workload of various departments; determine whether departments have the right size staff for their workload; and identify opportunities for different departments to share staff.

Baldwin said the assessment would factor in the county’s limited financial resources, and the effect of those limitations on staffing.

Ross said the executive committee, of which he is chairman — whose members include Robert Westby, Vern Gove, Richard Boockmeier and Mary Cupery — would exercise ongoing oversight of the leadership training process.

From “New MPTC program helps leaders look to the future” — As a business, it’s easy to get caught in the daily grind.

Thinking about the future — much less preparing for it — can be a daunting task in today’s working world.

A new nine-month program offered through Moraine Park Technical College aims to address that issue, empowering current and future business leaders and giving companies the tools and skills they need to adapt to ever-changing times.

STRAT, which stands for Strategy, Alignment and Talent, launched this spring. It was designed to help area businesses with strategic thinking and leadership skills, according to information from MPTC. STRAT challenges and educates participants with workshop training, coaching, networking and projects.

Businesses participating include Lutheran Homes and Health Services, Society Insurance, Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corp., Grande Cheese Co., Mid-States Aluminum, Kondex Corp., Regal Ware in Kewaskum and Spring Valley in Jackson.

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