surge leadership development program

Surge is a design thinking program for mid-level managers and emerging leaders seeking to improve their leadership effectiveness.

Leadership is fast-paced and dynamic, requiring problem solving and interpersonal skills that can seem overwhelming to emerging leaders new to their increased responsibilities. Design thinking provides a robust framework to tackle even the toughest of these challenges — but like any viable solution, consistency and accountability are key to making it stick. 

The Surge program was developed specifically to address the issues facing mid-level managers, and importantly, to allow them to work through their unique, specific challenges. Surge participants will do real problem solving as they generate, prototype, and test the solutions they will implement when they return to the workplace. 

The work doesn’t stop there. Change is hard, and behavior change is really hard. The Surge program provides the ongoing coaching and support to help participants integrate new behaviors, while also providing the insight and accountability necessary to ensure success.

Program Overview

For each participant this integrated program includes:

  • One (1) full-day experiential workshop where participants learn and apply design thinking concepts to their specific leadership challenges
  • Team Dimensions assessment and application discussion
  • Three (3)  individual follow-up coaching sessions 

Full-Day Workshop

The workshop actively engages participants in design thinking activities and discussions in an experiential learning experience that teaches:

  • Why proper application of leadership power is necessary
  • Why leading authentically is important to building trust and engagement
  • How personal and team support systems sustain organizations
  • How leaders illuminate the path for their team via communication and inclusion
  • How to effectively handle conflict and toxic personalities
  • How to lead through disruptive change and leadership pivots
  • How to overcome both internal and team fears
  • Why work/life balance and personal wellness is integral to leadership success
  • How to effectively move from strategy to implementation

Ongoing Coaching

The Surge program moves beyond the theoretical to the direct application of proposed solutions to each participant’s specific leadership challenges. The energy of the initial workshop is only sustainable in the short term. It ignites a necessary spark and provides an important starting point, but the long term stickiness of learned concepts and the growth of each participant is further ensured by the personal coaching built into the program.

Senior Leader Sponsorship

The involvement and support of the sponsor and organization is critical to the ongoing success of the participant. The program requires the commitment of a sponsor within the participant’s organization to provide feedback, assist in goal-setting and accountability, and define ROI requirement metrics. The goal is to develop a leader that will drive the growth and sustainability of the company for the foreseeable future. The sponsor relationship creates bonds that solidifies the long-term investment in the emerging leader.

m house collective

Surge launches with a full-day design thinking workshop at M House Collective in Richfield, OH

design thinking

Design Thinking

Cohort participants will leverage the power of design thinking to understand and apply the philosophies and practice of leadership in a new way. Design thinking is a methodology for creative problem solving that is especially effective for solving organizational and “people” problems. Importantly, it quickly moves from the theoretical to the practical application of teaching and learning. Design thinking processes seek to find the intersection between what is desirable, feasible, and viable. Beginning with empathy and collaboration, design thinking then works through ideation and synthesis processes to determine which solutions are most likely to be successful. Those solutions are then rapid-prototyped, tested, and implemented.


Immersive, experiential learning has been proven to increase absorption, retention and application of information. The Surge program utilizes active learning to prompt leadership discussions and apply new insights to specific challenges. Surge features purposeful team-building activities and discussions that illuminate leadership challenges, provoke inquisitive, human-centered solutions, and produce outcomes-based results.

Outcomes Based

Built on the principles of design thinking, this 6-month program ensures that participants will:

  • Define specific leadership challenges
  • Learn practical and actionable skills to solve those challenges
  • Ideate solutions to specific problems
  • Rapid prototype the most viable solutions
  • Test solutions in real-time simulations
  • Begin implementing the final solution back in the workplace
experiential leadership development


A critical component of compelling leadership is personal wellness. It is impossible to effectively lead others without first proactively managing personal health and wellness. Each leadership topic not only addresses organizational effectiveness, but also provides insight and actionable ways to proactively deal with stress and self-care.


The Surge program illuminates a new way of thinking that can be applied across a range of leadership challenges. Participants will document specific accomplishments and how they are operating differently in their leadership role. The near and long-term impact is measured by the capturing and cataloging of new wins and opportunities.



Surge Core Competencies:

Over the course of the Surge six-month program participants will:

  • Learn and apply design thinking as a methodology for problem solving and innovation
  • Understand the principles of effective leadership and how to authentically apply them
  • Identify their natural leadership role and strengths
  • Learn how to discern the essential role of others in a team
  • Create a development plan to improve and develop their leadership style
  • Expand their professional network

Meet the Facilitators

Facilitators Joe Watson and Kathy Lentner have each spent over 20 years working to understand and maximize the impact and productivity of individuals, teams, and organizations.

Joe Watson

Joe Watson

Program Creator and Workshop Facilitator

Joe is the co-founder and CEO of Go Big Creative Lab where he utilizes his expertise in design thinking to help individuals and organizations solve wicked problems and improve leadership, culture, conflict resolution, and team building. Joe helps clients reimagine difficult challenges into creative and effective solutions. His empathy and passion is felt in every workshop he facilitates, bringing diversity, creativity, and the lessons of leadership to life in unexpected and transformational ways.

Kathy Lentner

Kathy Lentner

Leadership Coach and Workshop Co-Facilitator

Kathy is CEO and Founder of Tiaki Associates where her expertise in organizational development, wellness, and leadership helps organizations create culture that supports their most valuable resources — their people. Kathy has a unique ability to coalesce diverse ideas into manageable and sustainable solutions, and her combination of intuitiveness and pragmatism dramatically impact individual and corporate productivity in the workplace and community.

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