January 1, 2013

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Step It Up

Leadership Programs Help Managers Take It to the Next Level

Josh McFadden

January 1, 2013

Poor leadership skills can hamper the growth and success of any business. They can also put the brakes on career advancement for managers and team leaders. To overcome this hurdle, Westminster College and the University of Utah both offer leadership training certificate programs.

Westminster College’s Mastering Leadership certificate program was developed in response to research conducted in 2011 that indicated companies were growing increasingly concerned about gaps in leadership—employees not able and ready to assume leadership roles after current executives retired or pursued other ventures, according to Rose Defa, director of the program.

Defa says the Westminster program is helpful largely for two groups of people: first, current managers who aspire to executive leadership, and second, people in whom companies see leadership potential.

Real-world Experience
Westminster’s program strives to meet the needs of the participant and the company he or she represents.

 “The projects they work on are relevant for the company,” says Defa. “We spend time with executives and find out what benefits the company. Companies aren’t looking for canned programs—they’re looking for customized projects.”

The Westminster program is non-credit and offers open enrollment. It is built around 10 two-day sessions and focuses on essential leadership skills. Indeed, it provides individuals with practical business applications.

“We customize the program for every group so they’re benefitted,” Defa says. “We use a project-based, real-world approach.”

Sometimes Defa will take the program directly to a company. “The group goes through as a team,” she says. “A lot of synergy happens. There’s cross-functional work; they learn from each other.”

The Mastering Leadership certificate program has been growing strong for
a year and a half. It is based on the college’s MBA program, as the curriculum itself is drawn from the school’s MBA coursework. Most recently, 50 learners—as Defa refers to the participants—were in the program locally. Westminster even delivers the program internationally. It is working with more than 100 learners from China, in addition to participants in Peru.

The cost is $400 per two-day session. Sometimes companies will cover the costs entirely for their employees. However, individuals are often asked to pay for the courses or contribute a portion of their time or money.

“There needs to be buy-in from the company and the individual,” Defa says.

She says the program is flexible and is always evolving and dynamic. And learners are never left to themselves but rather receive coaching and assessment before, during and after projects. Response to the program has been tremendous.

“Overall, we’ve gotten very positive feedback,” Defa says. “In all cases, people say they would recommend it to others.”

The University of Utah offers a similar leadership program, designed to help professionals and aspiring business leaders understand the concepts and foundations that govern management and help enhance communication within groups. The Leadership Development Program is a non-credit certificate course that provides learners with an outline of business techniques and ideas.

The U of U program is conducted in six sessions over two weeks. Flexibility and convenience are premium, as evening, weekend and day programs are offered. The curriculum encompasses lectures, case studies, video clips, role-playing and team work.

The U’s program functions as a “mini-MBA,” introducing participants to fundamentals like strategic management, negotiation, communication, accounting and finance, and strategic marketing and brand management. 

Westminster College
Mastering Leadership Certificate
Non-credit, open enrollment
10 two-day sessions over the course of a year

University of Utah
Leadership Development Program
Non-credit, six sessions within two weeks

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