Leadership Development Programs in Startups

Lately I’ve been working on a simple leadership development program internally. A startup can only grow as fast as the leaders within the company grow, and no faster, so developing leaders is key. The current approach is fairly simple and works as follows:

  • Meet once per month for one hour
  • Separate managers into several groups such that no direct report of a manager is in the same group
  • Discuss one book or article per month (our book for this month is Drive by Daniel Pink)
  • Talk about any leadership challenges or opportunities over the past 30 days as well as the up-coming 30 days

One of the most important parts of this program is actually taking the time to reflect for a few hours each month and to be intentional about getting better as a leader. Our program is just getting started but I’m excited to see how it progresses and how our leaders develop.

What else? What are some other ideas for a leadership development program in a startup?

3 thoughts on “Leadership Development Programs in Startups

  1. Consider hiring a team building coach. Fran LaMattina is a certified coach in Atlanta. Her company is called “Strategies for Greatness”. Several years ago, she worked with a seven member team of which i was a part. She identified our strengths, weaknesses, communication skills and assessed our personalities and identified where personalities may clash. She also helped us reduce and/or resolve areas where we had tensions. It put our team on a whole new working level. I can’t recommend it enough.

  2. Last year I attended an HR meeting where Alan Lee, VPHR from Zep Inc. spoke on this very topic. He was brilliant and the development processes/plans he implemented were impressive. I have also heard from several acquaintances that he is also a very nice guy. If I were working on a program like this right now, he would be my first phonecall.

  3. To become a better leader one must learn to become a better communicator — both verbally and non-verbally. Leaders need to communicate their goals and visions to the people involved and therefore must understand how their message will be best received by their audience.

    As another fun exercise for the leadership class, make participants take the DISC personality test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DISC_assessment) helping them understand their own personality type and learn to identify the personality types of others. As a group, talk through the various ways to express one concept to each personality type.

    Overall, continually challenge the group reflect and put into practice their lessons learned so that it becomes an inherent cycle of learning and application.

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