Maximizing Your Leadership Potential

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.


Chances are you’ve heard some positive – and perhaps more dubious – leadership advice over the years. Yet have you ever taken the time to consider how leadership actually looks for YOU? Is there a leadership quote or philosophy that guides your work? What are your top leadership values? What is your primary leadership style, and when should you adjust and use the strengths of other styles?
In Maximizing Your Leadership Potential, you will have the opportunity to explore these topics for yourself. In addition, the program is designed to help you with practical skills 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.

Who should attend:

  • Managers and supervisors of individual contributors
  • First-level managers who are facing new challenges
  • People who have recently been promoted to a management role

Key Topics:

  • Identifying your leadership style and what your personal strengths and weaknesses mean for leading your team
  • 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

Registration for Summer 2023

Location: Grainger Hall

Date: July 13, 2023 from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Fee: $269

Register for Summer 2023  or call 608-262-2451 to register. BONUS: Place 2 or more paid leadership courses in your cart, and use discount code SBDC10 for 10% off. Classes must be purchased in the same transaction.

Note: This course can be taken as a standalone course, or as part of the Learning to Lead series. 

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 608-262-2451 .

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 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®.

[I appreciated] discussing real situations from each of our workplaces. Sarah was very personable and humorous – very enjoyable and a positive presence.

Clinic Manager, CI Therapies, Summer 2022 Participant

“The instructor was knowledgeable and gave real life practical methods on how to implement the strategies that were discussed throughout the class to maximize leadership potential! Would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in growing as a leader.”

Hamdi Munishi, Quality Manager Automation Components, Inc.

Wonderful class with a lot of engagement and personal experiences.

Safety Director, Daniels General Contractors, Summer 2022 Participant


Sarah Smyrk

Sarah Smyrk, RCC™, CLF®, CCMP®

Assistant Director – Multi-Year Strategy Orchestration

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 is currently undergoing additional change management designations through LaMarsh Global.  This summer (2022), she will begin pursuing 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 Sun Prairie, WI with her husband Sam.  She is actively involved in both the United Way of Milwaukee County and Dane County and is currently serving as the 2020 United Way Campaign Chair for all of Northwestern Mutual.  She actively volunteers with several other non-profit organizations as part of Northwestern Mutual’s Foundation.  In 2013, she was recognized by Madison’s InBusiness magazine as “40 Under 40.”  Sarah is a competitive bodybuilder, enjoys working out, and always being active.

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 or call (608) 263-2221.