FILLING THE SHOES OF TODAY’S leaders has been a concern of executives in Northeast Wisconsin for some time. They wonder: How will we replace the ranks of leaders as demographics shift older and the baby boomers retire, en masse?
In 2008, New North, Inc. surveyed company presidents and chief executive officers regionwide and confirmed a significant need for leadership development.
“What was especially needed was something for mid-level and senior leaders,” says Tom Wiltzius, New North board member and principal at enVision Performance Solutions LLC, based in Appleton.
When St. Norbert College announced it would establish the Donald J. Schneider School of Business and Economics in 2014, President Tom Kunkel invited Wiltzius to consider housing an independent leadership program at the De Pere campus. Along with Kevin Quinn, dean of the business school, Kunkel and Wiltzius began to formulate a plan.
With the guidance of several other community leaders, including Kathi Seifert, Mike Weller, Bob Pedersen and Dean Gruner, they developed a vision and mission. About 60 others contributed to design the program, and a core of 15 corporations pledged $250,000 to get it off the ground.
Wiltzius announced the launch of the Center for Exceptional Leadership (CEL) at the New North Summit in December. This month, the first candidates for the program will begin assessments — the first step in the program — to discover their strengths, weaknesses and the skills they need to acquire to be excellent leaders.
“This area has such a vibrant economic base, and we see so many companies wanting to get training for their key executives — that focused, hands-on type of learning and sharing,” says Weller of Mike Weller Associates and one of the mentors for the new program. “Many times, they had to get on planes and go to Texas or Boston or Colorado for training programs. Some couldn’t afford to pay the tuition or travel. But then, we realized we have great people here,” who can do the training.
The CEL provides a flexible series of programs that allow emerging or senior leaders to enroll in its initial assessment, or all of its sequential offerings: Individual Leadership Assessment (both comprehensive interviews and world class, on-line assessments), Cohort Immersion (an intensive peer-based program over four consecutive days) and Cohort Development (one-day meetings with five to 11 peers each month over 12 to 14 months). An Individual Leadership Coaching program is also available, post-assessment.
Five emerging leader and two senior leader development program series will be offered in 2017.
Wiltzius, who serves as volunteer executive director, says CEL is not like an MBA program, a series of leadership courses or a peer group like TEC or CEO round tables. And it’s not a quick fix for individuals who lack leadership potential. Rather, it’s an immersion program designed to hone skills of emerging leaders or enhance the competency of senior leaders.
Weller explains it further: “People get undergraduate and even master’s degrees, and that gives them the credentials to be leaders. This kind of training allows them to be excellent leaders. It’s polishing their potential — improving their effectiveness.”
CEL is headquartered in Cofrin Hall on the St. Norbert Campus, with Angela Marshalek, director of services and Anna Mallo serving as program coordinator.
Program fees are $4,000 for the initial assessment; $4,000 for the cohort immersion program and $8,000 for the cohort development program. An individual coaching program is also available for $15,000. A mentoring program is being developed for those who have completed assessment and other offerings.