Learning to Lead Series


Effective leadership is crucial to the success of any organization. Yet skilled individual contributors are often promoted without formal training in supervision and leadership – and there can be a lot to learn! This series helps supervisors understand the leadership fundamentals behind the transition from worker to leader, HR basics to provide new managers with a general awareness of laws and key policies, and understand the basics of effective communication and delegation of tasks. Series of four for $948 – a savings of 15%!


Launch into Leadership

This class is ideal for emerging and aspiring leaders, as well as newly promoted supervisors. You will learn common mistakes new supervisors make and how to avoid them, what mindset changes are necessary to move from a “doer” to a manager, and the fundamental skills supervisors need to be successful. This course is being offered over multiple days to foster a cohort feel among participants while also breaking up the material into bite-sized pieces for incorporation into the work.

February 22 – 25, 9:30 am – 11:30 am; $269    Sarah Smyrk

HR Basics for Non-HR Professionals

If you are a business owner or manager of a small business without a dedicated HR expert on your staff, this is the program for your organization. If you have administrative staff that are performing HR duties as part of their responsibilities that are not HR experts they too will benefit. This mini series is two half day classes is directed toward small businesses and the HR issues they face. One class will include the laws most often violated (unknowingly) by Small Businesses (according to the Small Business Administration) and provide information on how to prevent these violations. The second class will focus on common issues encountered when dealing with employees.

March 2 & 3, 8:30 am – 11:45 am; $269                       Karen Bender

Communication and Delegation Skills Using the DiSC Profile

When working with a team, understanding is often lost between different communication styles and assumptions. This is especially true when we are managing a virtual team. In this course, you will learn common causes of communication breakdowns when interacting with your team and the actions you can take to reduce or eliminate these breakdowns. By taking the DiSC profile assessment, you will better understand your communication style and how to use it effectively when interacting with others. Finally, you will learn the conditions and steps necessary for successful delegation and strategies for overcoming common barriers – including the challenges of delegating in a virtual environment.

March 15, 16 & 17, 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm; $309 (includes DiSC profile)                                      Jeff Russell


Positive Power Plays: Skills for Conflict and Negotiation

All leaders must navigate conflict within their work. However, conflict can serve as a tool to bring different viewpoints to the surface, increase creativity, and allow the team to develop win-win resolutions. In this course, you will learn listening strategies, emotion management, anger resolution techniques, steps to planning a negotiation conversation, the 5 different conflict styles, and how to use the 4 stages of conflict resolution for any situation.
April 22, 8:30am – 4:00 pm; $269                Patricia Clason


Location: Live Virtual Class, hosted via Zoom

Schedule:  Dates and times vary, see individual classes for details


  • To Register for the Series . You must add all 4 classes to your cart to receive the 15% discount. Series price: $986 for the full series (a 15% discount!).
  • To register for individual programs CLICK on individual program titles.


Registration policy: Payment will be required at time of registration. You must have either a credit card or valid UW-Madison funding string to be able to register.

Cancellation policy: If you cancel before the program begins, there is a $25 cancellation fee. If you cancel after the program begins you will be charged for the full program fee. To cancel, call registration at 608-262-3909.

Disability Statement: Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the UW-Madison SBDC office at sbdc@bus.wisc.edu to request accommodations.

The Small Business Development Center at UW Madison is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®.


SBDC instructor Sarah SmyrkSarah Smyrk, RCC   (Launch into Leadership)

Sarah Smyrk currently leads training and communications for the Field Supervision Team at Northwestern Mutual.  In this role, she is responsible for identifying training gaps and setting the training and communications strategy to support the needs of the Directors of Network Office Supervision as they implement and oversee field supervisory policies and procedures.  She leads the training team to develop and execute curriculum to help close the gaps.  Sarah joined Northwestern Mutual in April 2016.  Previously, Sarah was with CUNA Mutual Group in Madison, WI, from 2007-2016, where she was responsible for leading the vision, strategy, and execution of training initiatives for CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. and its financial advisors.  In addition, she was responsible for training for CUNA Mutual Group’s Life, Annuity and Health Product Sales Teams.As a Registered Corporate Coach™ (RCC), Sarah is passionate about working closely with advisors on an individual basis to help them achieve top levels of success and take their business to the next level, while providing an outstanding client experience. She uses her leadership and coaching expertise to help teams build and implement mentoring programs that help strengthen and reinforce goals and top priorities.

Karen BenderKaren Bender, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (HR Basics for Non HR Professionals)

Karen is a Human Resources professional with over 25 years of experience, ranging from a large multi-national to several local start-ups. She has extensive experience working in both union and non-union environments in manufacturing, but has also worked in health insurance. Duties have included all facets of HR tasks in both a manager and director role. She has led teams that have earned recognition for their accomplishments in safety, environmental, and wellness arenas. Currently, Karen is a HR Consultant, working for a variety of companies on different projects.

SBDC instructor Jeff RussellJeff Russell   (Communication Delegation)

Jeff Russell, (MS, UW-Madison) co-director of Russell Consulting, Inc., specializes in helping organizations achieve their goals by successfully responding to the challenges of continuous change. With a focus on leadership, strategic thinking, leading change, and performance coaching, Jeff has guided organizations as diverse as Fortune 500 firms, social and public sector organizations, and small family businesses toward their goals. Jeff received his Masters Degree in Industrial Relations from the UW-Madison where he serves as an ad hoc faculty member for the Small Business Development Center. Jeff also is an adjunct faculty member for UW-Milwaukee, UW-Green Bay, and UW-Colleges. Jeff and his wife and business partner Linda have co-authored eight books. Recent publications include: Managing the Problem Employee, Leading Change Training, Strategic Planning Training, Change Basics, Strategic Planning 101, and, most recently, Ultimate Performance Management, (ASTD Press, 2009). For more information on Jeff and his work, visit Russell Consulting, Inc.’s website at www.RussellConsultingInc.com.

SBDC instructor Patricia ClasonPatricia Clason  (Positive Power Plays: Skills for Conflict & Negotiation)

Patricia Clason is a communicator of the highest skill. She has been a professional speaker, trainer, consultant and writer for thirty years, doing over 4,000 presentations internationally. As the Director of the Center for Creative Learning, her focus is on alternative methods of teaching and learning that produce high quality results. As adjunct faculty at three universities, she specializes in emotional intelligence, ethics, coaching, leadership and mediation/conflict resolution. Patricia’s latest book “Speaking of Success” co-authored with Stephen Covey, Jack Canfield and Ken Blanchard, is now available at her website: Center for Creative Learning.