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Leadership and the Middle Path

A Professional Development Workshop for Leaders

About the Workshop

Over 140 tech start-ups and other businesses (including Fortune 100 companies) in 15 countries around the world have trained their leaders in Leadership and the Middle Path. The workshop has proven so impactful that investors have required startup teams to complete it as a condition for funding.

Whether your managers are experienced or just getting started, their fundamental challenges are the same: resolving problems and conflicts, managing their time and resources, forming and keeping agreements, and enabling their team to reach its full potential.

While mastering these critical skills may seem simple, it's never easy.

Leadership and the Middle Path is an intensive, interactive two-day workshop designed to help managers and other leaders become better problem solvers, thinkers, communicators, and decision makers. Through experiential, hands-on activities, they learn and practice real-world skills that are immediately applicable in the workplace. While especially useful for those who are new to management, experienced managers also report significant benefits from the workshop.

“My team now has a shared language for solving problems, and tools for having more ‘data-rich’ conversations. I use Middle Path frameworks daily and recommend them highly.” 

–Peter Bui, Senior Software Engineer

Patreon

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"Leadership and the Middle Path helped me prepare for and hold more productive discussions. I’ve found myself not only having greater confidence to simply initiate these conversations, but also better equipped to navigate them once started."

–Ajara Safko, Senior Scientist

Ubiquitous Energy

The Middle Path – Where Real-World Solutions Reside

Effective management isn’t about abstract theories—it’s about the big and small choices we make, and the actions we take every day to handle real-world challenges such as underperforming team members and conflicts within our teams.

 

Asking the right questions and making the best decisions in these difficult situations requires a flexible, clear-headed mindset that frees you from the seductive and often false limitations of binary thinking. For example, “I must choose: Am I going to be a tough manager and get things done, or a nice manager and have people like me?” or “As a company, are we going to focus on being profitable or on taking care of our customers? We can’t do both.” We set up traps for ourselves with questions like these. And the way out is integral thinking—the Middle Path.

One of the things that sets this training apart from most leadership programs is its focus on a small set of core principles:
 

Managers are more effective when they…
 

  • Are disciplined

  • Think systemically

  • Work with integrity

  • Are self-aware

  • Can solve problems collaboratively

  • Take a biological-systems perspective when dealing with teams

Powerful Skills You Can Put into Action Immediately

Here are some of the critical skills you will learn in Leadership and the Middle Path:
 

  • Recognize unproductive mindsets that hinder effective problem-solving, and develop new, more productive mindsets to replace them

  • Develop more trusting relationships

  • Identify problems in teams and organizations faster and more accurately (i.e., avoid wasting time and resources on solving the wrong problems)

  • Build habits that help you uncover and interpret data, find non-obvious root causes, and determine ideal outcomes

  • Define and articulate outcomes that focus not just on tangible business goals, but on the higher purpose that motivates you and your team or organization

  • Systematically generate multiple potential solutions

  • Secure commitments required to implement solutions, and hold people accountable

  • Use a four-step model for holding difficult conversations productively

  • Hold conversations for understanding and conversations for acting

  • Make complaints and offer apologies more productively


With these skills, you’ll be able to handle almost anything—solve people- and team-problems more effectively, run meetings more productively, reach stronger agreements, and handle conflicts more gracefully.

 

And over time—as you master these principles and frameworks—you'll find that when you choose to lead more people will follow you.

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"I found Russ's frameworks for solving problems and navigating challenging discussions to be incredibly valuable. If you are looking to enhance your leadership abilities, solve problems more effectively, and have more productive conversations, I highly recommend Leadership and the Middle Path.”

–Amar Virk, Product Leader

Stripe

'Simple but not easy' is a terrific summation of the principles of Middle Path leadership. Fortunately, what distinguishes Leadership and the Middle Path from other leadership programs are the opportunities to practice. If your team isn't functioning as a whole greater than the sum of its parts, go through this workshop. I highly recommend it."

–John Wickson, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer

Current Aviation

Program Details

This is a public workshop held in Petaluma, California. It takes place over the course of two full days.

 

[Note that with a minimum of nine participants, this workshop can also be held onsite, face-to-face, exclusively for your team or organization. Contact Russ for details.]

Our meeting dates/times will be as follows (all dates 2024):

Day One – Wednesday, September 25th, 8:30am–5:30pm

Day Two – Thursday, September 26th, 8:30am–5:30pm

Note: To help you gain greater mastery over the skills taught in the program, we strongly recommend a follow-up practice session with Russ and two of your fellow workshop attendees. This practice session is included in the price of the program and typically takes place four to six weeks after the workshop. We’ll give you more details during the workshop.

Plan For an Immersive Learning Experience

If you’ve been disappointed by “content-dump” training programs that just feed you information without showing you what to do with it, Leadership and the Middle Path will be a game-changer. While we cover some theoretical ground, the focus is on learning by doing, with the goal of giving you enough practice opportunities during the workshop for you to start putting your new skills to work the moment you leave.

But as serious athletes and musicians can tell you, mastering any important skill requires a commitment of time and attention. Each session in Leadership and the Middle Path builds on material covered in the preceding sessions, so we ask that you commit to attending and participating actively both days to get the full value of the program.

Program Investment

The fee for the workshop is $1,750. A deposit of $500 is required to reserve a seat.

Early-bird discount – If you register 90 days in advance, I offer a 20% discount; if 60 days in advance, a 10% discount. Contact me for the relevant registration coupon.

If cost is a concern for you, contact me. I offer additional discounts on a case-by-case basis—this includes discounts for workers who have recently lost their jobs and Bay Area college students.

Planning Ahead?

If you can't make this one, come join us for one of our future public workshops (all dates 2025):

Winter (North Bay) – March 5th and 6th (in Petaluma, venue TBD)

Spring (virtual) – TBD


All online programs run from 8:30a to 1:00p (Pacific)

Face-to-face programs run 8:30a to 5:30p (Pacific)

Facilitated by Russ Powell

Russ Powell is a veteran Human Performance Technology (HPT) consultant who specializes in the development of leaders and teams. He has helped thousands of workers and hundreds of leaders in dozens of start-ups and multinational organizations build collaborative problem solving skills. He's worked in high-tech, bio-tech, food-tech, healthcare, solar, hospitality, telecommunications, and government/military. He's an avid musician, juggler, and flier of stunt kites. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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"I found Russ' Middle Path workshop valuable—both personally and professionally. His approach offers useful frameworks for not only getting unstuck, but also solving problems and navigating common pitfalls and challenges leaders face. If you're ready to take your leadership skills to the next level, I highly recommend it."

–Zaki Shafi, Analytical Chemist

Merck Animal Health

"Today’s position-based approach to conversations—'I’m right; you’re wrong'—greatly needs the skills taught and practiced in Leadership and the Middle Path. I love that the program calls out familiar but sometimes inscrutable traps we fall into in important conversations and problem solving. It unravels the complex mental processes needed for effective conversations, and includes enough practice and support to enable the leader to own the skills by the end of the program."

Mary Anne Rasmussen, President

Rasmussen Consulting

I want to attend!

How do I sign up?

For more information on our leadership curriculum, visit this page

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