Learning to Lead Series

Looking for additional leadership opportunities for your new supervisors and aspiring and emerging leaders? Want to bring training to your team? Join us for our GROW classes, indicted on our Classes & Training page by the icon at left. These affordable courses are designed to help you improve your skills in areas like conflict management, emotional intelligence, delegation, communication, performance management, and more.


Successful supervision and leadership are crucial components of success in any organization. Yet talented individual contributors are often promoted without any formal training in these skills. This series of 3 one-day classes is taught by experts in the field and offers core supervisory leadership skill development in the form of interactive discussions, case studies and self-assessments to get your supervisors up and running fast. You may choose individual classes listed below, or register for the entire series and save 15%.

Who should attend?

  • New supervisors
  • Supervisors who have not had formal leadership training
  • Aspiring leaders who plan to pursue leadership positions in the future
  • Peer leaders who provide informal leadership among colleagues
  • Supervisors wishing to improve their skills in key areas of communication, delegation, conflict management, strengthening team relationships, reflecting on leadership styles, and more

Maximizing Your Leadership Potential is a program designed to help you with practical to achieve lasting, sustainable results through people. This course will enable you to sharpen your skills in four fundamental areas of leadership: self-awareness, learning agility, communication, and influence.

Key Topics:

  • Increase commitment and engagement to improve team effectiveness
  • Build and strengthen relationships in ways that allow for better performance, effective delegation and contribution of others
  • Find constructive responses to conflict by understanding self and others
  • Learn how and when to adjust leadership style and draw on others to understand and solve problems

All leaders deal with conflict in one form or another. In this class you will learn how to turn conflict into collaborations and reach win-win resolutions. You will see conflict to clarify roles, relationships, and heighten creativity. Learning how to reach beyond the impasse and find solutions that work is one of the best tools that leaders can use.

What you will learn:

  • The 5 conflict styles.
  • Strategies for building trust.
  • The 4 stages of conflict resolution and how to use them for any situation.
  • The best listening strategies to use for the best resolution.
  • Emotion management and anger resolution techniques.
  • How creativity plays into resolving conflict.
  • Steps to planning a negotiation conversation

Whether you are communicating with your employees, customers, or suppliers your ability to express yourself well and understand others is a major factor of your success. For this course, you will have the opportunity to take the DiSC Personal Profile and use the results to better understand your own communication style and strengthen your business relationships by learning how to better communicate with people who have a different style. You will leave the session with a personal plan for improving your communication skills.

The second half of the class will focus on developing delegation as a valuable skill that will allow you to enable your employees to willingly take more responsibility for performance and use their expanded authority well.

What you will learn:

  • The most common causes of communication breakdown and the actions you can take to reduce them.
  • What your DiSC behavioral profile is, how to interpret it and how to use it to communicate better with others.
  • How to understand the different DiSC styles, their interactions at work and how you can use that to manage others.
  • The what, why and benefits of delegation.
  • The conditions necessary for successful delegation.
  • The 5 steps of effective delegation.

Registration Summer 2024

Location: Grainger Hall, UW-Madison

Individual Classes:

Schedule: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm each session

Price for the series: $816 (includes discounted series pricing; additional discounts do not apply. Must take all 3 series courses in a single semester to qualify for discounted pricing)

Registration for Summer 2024 or call 608-262-2451 to register.

Registration Deadlines

Registration type Date Fee
Earlybird Earlybird closes: 6/21/2024 Earlybird Registration Fee: $734.40
Late Registration Late Registration begins: 7/4/2024 Late Registration Fee: $897.60
Course registration closes 7/11/2024

Registration Fall 2024

Location: Grainger Hall, UW-Madison

Individual Classes:

Schedule: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm each session

Price for the series: $816 (includes discounted series pricing; additional discounts do not apply. Must take all 3 series courses in a single semester to qualify for discounted pricing)

Registration coming soon for Fall 2024 or call 608-262-2451 to register.

Registration Deadlines

Registration type Date Fee
Earlybird Earlybird closes: 10/3/2024 Earlybird Registration Fee: $734.40
Late Registration Late Registration begins: 10/16/2024 Late Registration Fee: $908.60
Course registration closes 10/23/2024


Registration & Cancellation policies

  • 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.
  • We cannot guarantee that a meal can be provided for in-person participants registering less than 8 days prior to the event date.
  • Cancelations at least 24 hours before the program begins will incur a $25 cancellation fee. Cancelations less than 24 hours before the start of the program will incur the full program fee. To cancel, call registration at 608-262-2451. Please note that in the case of a cancellation (by either the participant or the SBDC), participants can only be transferred one time into a new course.

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®.



Sarah Smyrk, RCC™, CLF®, CCMP®

Maximizing Your Leadership Potential

Sarah’s career is driven by her desire to understand and relate to people. Throughout her career she has worked in many roles to help business leaders drive product and program strategies that are rooted in strong relationships, made by data-driven decisions, and centered around the holistic customer experience. She is passionate about working closely with individuals to help them achieve top levels of success and take their business to the next level while providing an outstanding client experience. Using her leadership skills and experience as a Registered Corporate Coach™ (RCC), she has excelled at helping teams build and implement programs that help strengthen and reinforce goals and top priorities.

Sarah joined Northwestern Mutual in 2016 and has held several leadership roles across the organization. In her current role, Sarah is responsible for helping enterprise teams effectively execute on multi-year strategy initiatives and ensuring alignment on change readiness plans across business partners and the organization. Sarah currently holds several industry designations including FINRA Registrations Series 7, 63, 9, and 10 and her Chartered Leadership Fellow (CLF®) through the American College. She is certified through PROSCI as a Change Management Professional (CCMP®) and LaMarsh Global as a Certified Change Practitioner. In December (2023), Sarah will earn her Masters degree from The University of Alabama with a concentration in Organizational Leadership.

Previously, Sarah was with CUNA Mutual Group in Madison, WI, from 2007-2016, where she was responsible for leading the strategy and execution of training initiatives for CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI) and its financial advisors. In addition, she was responsible for training for CUNA Mutual Group’s Life, Annuity and Health Product Sales Teams. While at CUNA Mutual Group, she developed and led CBSI’s Women of Distinction program, a group of the company’s top female financial advisors. The group focused on mentoring advisors who were either new to organization or to the industry.

Sarah lives in Madison, WI with her husband Sam and dog Andy. She was recognized by Madison’s InBusiness Magazine as “40 Under 40”, is a competitive bodybuilder, enjoys working out, and always being active.

Jeff Russell, Russell ConsultingJeff Russell

Communication & Delegation Skills

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 at UW-Milwaukee, and UWLaCrosse.

Jeff and his wife and business partner Linda have co-authored nine books. Recent publications include: Change Training, Strategic Planning Training, Change Basics, Strategic Planning 101, Ultimate Performance Management, and, most recently, Fearless Performance Reviews (McGraw-Hill, 2012). For more information on Jeff and his work, visit Russell Consulting, Inc.’s website at www.RussellConsultingInc.com.

Patricia Clason, Center for Creative LearningPatricia 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.

The Wisconsin SBDC Network is a proud part of the Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship in the University of Wisconsin System.
It is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact us at sbdc@bus.wisc.edu or call (608) 263-2221.