Leadership

Startup Leadership Programs Are the Answer To Your Startup Success

As individuals, entrepreneurs, business owners, co-founders, startup leaders, and team members, we should always strive to learn and grow professionally and personally. We are not born knowing it all. We learn with time and through coaching, mentoring, and training.

Growth looks different for everyone. For some, it means getting a promotion; for others, it relates to training for new skill development, becoming innovators, or stepping out of our comfort zone to explore and gain new knowledge.

Whether you’re a new team leader or an experienced manager, developing your team is an integral part of the job. In coaching and developing your team, you, too, evolve as a leader. Your ability to create high-performing teams is a skill that increases your impact, enhances your business model, and helps you break through the confinements of being an oversized individual contributor.

Do Startup Leadership Programs Make a Leader?

Fahd Alhattab taking a photo with one of his clients

Past research suggests that leadership is 30% genetic and 70% a result of lessons learned through life experiences. While you don’t have control over heredity, you can still influence the remaining 70% with the right tools and a growth mindset.

Being the senior class president doesn’t make you a leader, and neither does being the manager of a team. It’s not just a title. The ability to effectively motivate, lead, and direct a group of people requires a complex skill set, mostly acquired through experiences, self-development, and access to training.

The expectation that a person can naturally influence and direct others is ineffective and can incur needless costs to your organization. As Carol Dweck writes in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.

To parallel Dweck’s sentiment, access to leadership training tools transforms and enables people in decision-making or managing roles at your organization to reach their leadership potential. They become your organization’s own superheroes who extend their abilities beyond themselves and onto their team as well.

Leadership goes beyond managing numbers and tasks and pivots to coaching team members. As University of Illinois professor David Rosch said, “Leadership development is a three-legged stool: ready, willing, and able. [Individuals] first become ready to learn about being a leader; then they become willing to learn the skills necessary to practice leadership; and finally, they're able to lead because they have the skills and the motivation to do it.”

What Is The Startup Leadership Program?

Since 2006, the non-profit Startup Leadership Program (SLP) — based in Boston but with major operations in New York (Startup Leadership Program NYC or SLP NYC) — has helped thousands of first-time founders, innovators, and business leaders become leading startup CEOs, COOs, and successful entrepreneurs. When people talk about early-stage startup leadership programs, this is often the group they’re referring to.

The SLP has an extensive alumni network nationwide, enabling successful startups to develop managers into leaders. However, it’s not without its drawbacks.

Why the SLP Isn’t What Most Startups Need

Three men smiling for a photo at a leadership retreat

The global network of SLP fellows from Boston to Bangalore is highly selective. Only 200 fellows are selected each year for the SLP community, meaning it’s one of the least accessible options in the entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem. Even some of the most innovative leaders in the startup scene are often overlooked for this program, so don’t let a rejection letter deter you.

Individuals or groups who want to become outstanding founders of a startup only need six things:

  • A startup incubator to get their idea off the ground
  • A strong, disruptive, innovative product
  • Well-researched marketing strategies
  • Superb organization culture
  • Possible backing from venture capital or other investors
  • Excellent leadership

If you’ve put together all of this except for a leadership program, you’re ahead of the game. But just because you have these other aspects in order doesn’t mean you need a fancy, exclusive startup leadership program. You only need one that works.

According to statistics, only about 15% of the workforce is engaged in their tasks, and startups aren’t exempt from this problem. Nevertheless, something like a 12-week leadership training program can address this issue. With the skills you learn in this edtech program, you can:

  • Bolster career development for employees
  • Build a culture centered around enthusiasm and productivity
  • Increase your leadership capacity
  • Improve the change of pace throughout your organization to meet operational flow and expansion

Think of it like this: you don’t have to go to Harvard to get a Harvard education. All you require is the right information, education, and tools for success.

The Main Benefit of a Startup Leadership Program — Learning How To Grow and Empower

People need training and support throughout their careers to develop their skills and continue to work effectively. Too often, individuals are thrust into positions of leadership based on the merit of their work expertise and individual contributions. However, this approach doesn’t always translate into an effective leader. New leaders often find themselves disoriented and sometimes even wish to return to their previous roles.

Without the proper knowledge and training, this unfamiliar terrain can further impede the empowerment of the individual and the empowerment of the rest of the team. We’re not talking only about new hires. We need to think of individuals at the management level as well.

If you work in a small or medium-sized organization, your startup's growth is limited by the strength of your leaders. You need to choose which kind of training program is best for your organization and its needs.

How To Choose the Right Startup Leadership Program

When choosing a leadership training program, you want to ensure it’s effective and provides the expected value. Varying company and team needs and resources pose different demands on what training will be right and accessible for you. Consider the factors below when choosing the right professional development program for your startup.

  • Online, in-person, and/or hybrid
  • Academic vs. practical
  • Specific vs. comprehensive
  • Length (short, long, and transformational)
  • Synchronous or asynchronous
  • Post-training resources and content
  • Team training or individual training

5 Startup Leadership Training Program Options

Attendees listening intently at a Unicorn Labs leadership retreat

If you want some options for developing your team outside of the SLP, we suggest a few of these highly regarded options available to your startup.

1. Unicorn Leadership Development Program, Unicorn Labs

The Unicorn Labs training program is designed for managers in high-growth startups. A 12-week leadership development program suits new and experienced managers through comprehensive content that provides concepts and tangible tools. Based on the latest research, this content is relevant to every leader. The format is iterative and builds on concepts, resulting in an integrated system that helps ground one’s leadership practice.

Unicorn Labs covers a vast array of managerial content, from emotional intelligence to team dynamics and how to implement more practical topics on hiring and delegating. You’ll also find abstract concepts broken down into tactical practices that will inform and strengthen your leadership toolbox.

As a primary online-based training, managers will be entered into the program as a cohort. With the asynchronous format, they can work at their own pace and have lifetime access to the course and alumni community of managers.

The coaching and mentorship for leadership development training consists of videos, assessments, worksheets, live group coaching calls, and a community exclusively for program participants. Finally, they'll retake the assessments to quantify their growth. Live group coaching calls help contextualize unique managerial questions and challenges while providing coaching and mentoring for leadership development. This narrows the learning-to-doing gap — essential for dynamic or rapidly growing startups.

2. Developing Managers and Leaders — LinkedIn Learning Solutions

LinkedIn Learning offers six different online training modules based on your employees’ needs. According to their website, learners get personalized, data-driven course recommendations based on career field, job role, current skillset, and self-selected interest.

The individual topics are:

  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Leadership and management
  • Collaboration
  • Business planning
  • Organizational culture
  • Professional development

3. Professional Development Institute, University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa offers leadership and management courses with an academic approach through its Professional Development Institute. They offer a variety of sessions with specific topics ranging from strategic thinking to effective delegation and more.

If you’re looking for a virtual learning option, the university just launched an online distance learning program where you can connect with a live virtual instructor during workshop hours. In-person sessions are also now available.

The hours, time, and price depend on the topic you choose. They range from three to four hours to one day to full weeks; prices vary.

4. Leadership Training, The Knowledge Academy

The Knowledge Academy training course is recommended for individuals of all levels wishing to improve their leadership skills, those interested in moving towards management roles, new managers, supervisors, team leaders, or even experienced managers looking to refresh their understanding.

This leadership course will introduce you to the key elements of effective and successful leadership needed to develop your knowledge. The duration breakdown of the course is one day with an online instructor-led, one day in a classroom, and eight hours of online self-paced learning. It includes the Knowledge Academy Leadership Skills courseware folder, certificates, experienced instructors, and refreshments.

5. Team Development & Leadership Training in Ottawa & Surrounding Areas, Clariti Group Inc.

Clariti Group offers a variety of methods to equip your leaders and their teams. They offer individual leadership coaching, individual assessments, one-on-one sessions and group workshops, and habit builders or employee “check-in” strategies.

Their five-month program is broken down into five sessions:

  • Self-awareness
  • New competencies
  • New capacities
  • Leadership impact
  • Clear results

The sessions are offered in person, via video, or by phone. They also have a timeframe to meet your schedule, ranging from 20-minute to half-day modules.

Don’t Skimp on the Last Piece of the Startup Puzzle

Every startup experiences growing pains. It’s an inevitability of the startup realm. But knowing when to reach out to the right group for your startup leadership program can spell the difference between success and failure. Your company, dream, and vision depend on it.

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