New Executive Education course upskills mid-level managers and directors

A lecturer in front of a class Two months before the newest professional development workshop debuted at the Daniels College of Business, enrollment for the one-day, one-credit Executive Education course was already full.

“Effective Team Management” instructor and course designer Hope Errico Wisneski (MSW 2000, MBA 2021), adjunct faculty member for Daniels’ Executive Education and Executive MBA programs, said the class fills a gap in leadership development opportunities for middle managers and directors.

Formerly chief of staff and associate dean for operations at DU’s Graduate School of Social Work and now a chief operating officer at Raise the Future, she created the course based on decades of building and leading teams to solve complex organizational problems.

In an interview with the Daniels Newsroom, Wisneski noted that as a Gen Xer, she “didn’t move super quickly [up the leadership ranks].

“It really was one step at a time,” she said, while younger Millennials and Gen Z employees are scaling organizational levels much faster due to increased opportunities in the workforce, pursuit of personal growth and desire for meaningful work.

“We have so many people who are finding themselves in management positions and not feeling confident,” she said. “They haven’t been taught the management skill set. Newer managers and directors who work with senior leaders are hungry to learn.”

Wisneski imagined a leadership training course specifically for these emerging, mid-level leaders, where she could teach soft skills and share wisdom gained and lessons learned to “help emerging leaders upskill so they’re prepared to move more quickly in their career.”

Judging by the popularity of the class, she’s onto something.

Part lecture, part hands-on workshop, the daylong class covers the main themes of effective management—employee motivation, team building, decision making, feedback, coaching, the power dynamics of managing up and down, and more—all with a goal of helping leaders gain the tools to confidently build and lead effective teams.

Modules are broken into mini lectures and exercises that span one eight-hour session. The class is capped at 25 students to allow for small-group work, connection-building and individualized attention, so participants leave with immediate tips and tricks to implement at work the next day.

DaVonna Jones, a customer experience manager at Delta Dental who attended the inaugural session on May 1, said she has already implemented some of what she learned.

“I gained more clarity, different points of view and different insights into how I can better support my team,” she said. “So, I truly love that.”

Jones co-manages a department of 60 team members in Delta Dental’s customer service call center. When her company sponsored a “mini-MBA” professional development opportunity at Daniels, Jones said she jumped at the chance to hone her management skills.

The custom program included a choice of Executive Education workshops combined with the Accelerated Leadership Experience—a multi-day, immersive leadership development program for newer managers. “Effective Team Management” was the final course in Jones’ program.  

“I liked having this class last because it bookended everything,” she said. “It brought me back to why I was doing this, to focusing on myself as a leader and helping my team to grow.”

Lorne Fultonberg, director of communications at the Daniels College of Business, also participated in the class, wanting to boost his confidence as a newer leader.

The single-day format is more accessible than a weeks-long immersive leadership program, and “a good way to see if leadership is of continued interest to you before you commit to something more in-depth,” he said.

Fultonberg’s takeaways mirrored Jones’, both of which aligned with Wisneski’s goals for the course.

“We think about leadership as developing the people around us, but having this time to be introspective about our own growth and skill set that we can then use to help others was a light bulb to a lot of people,” Fultonberg said. “People were happy to be there, happy to learn and found a good camaraderie among themselves.”

Due to its popularity, two additional sessions of “Effective Team Management” have been scheduled, on Aug. 14 and Dec. 5. Learn more and register on the Daniels Executive Education website.

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Executive Education at the Daniels College of Business offers webinars, workshops, courses and customized programs in a variety of leadership and business topics. We focus on education for working professionals, lessons for lifelong learners and bonding experiences for teams.
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