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Leadership Academy Structure

Student Cohorts

Cohorts of 12 emerging leaders matriculate through the Academy as an intact unit. In addition to the training scheduled for them to attend together, members are encouraged to meet regularly as a cohort or in subgroups to provide support, responsibility, and perspective to each other. An inevitable outcome is a cohesive cross-functional team of cohort members.


The classic model extends over a 13-month period. Participants meet with their instructor for two consecutive days in the first month and in every other month, or for seven times. During the six months in between these sessions, participants receive individual coaching and mentoring. They will also progress on their break-through goals and leadership development plans throughout the 13 months.

The global model takes into account that travel seven times in a 13-month period may be impractical when members of the cohort are spread across the continent and throughout the world. In these cases, cohorts meet face-to-face with their instructor only two or three times, typically for three or four days each time. The months in between these sessions are then populated by webinars along with coaching and mentoring. If the global model makes sense for your company, the exact schedule will be tailored to your needs.

An open enrollment option is available to clients not ready to assemble a cohort of 12 participants. This model is 10 months in duration and is offered in Pittsburgh at the Renaissance Hotel. Call us to learn when the next open enrollment cohort will form and what plans there may be to establish one in a city near you.

Initial Assessment

Right after beginning the program, students receive a Leadership Effectiveness 360° Assessment that measures their success to date at applying the leadership skills addressed in the program.

Read more about the Leadership Effectiveness 360˚ Assessment.


Students receive a leadership coach to assist them in realizing their goals. Coaches help to transform the data students receive on Leadership Academy assessments into personal development plans. They act as accountability allies in the achievement of those plans. And they advise students on the best ways to surmount ongoing leadership challenges on the job. In short, a coach’s assignment is to ensure that Leadership Academy participants are growing as leaders. Coaching sessions occur between workshops either in person, by phone, or via WebEx.


Students are typically assigned a mentor from within the company. This will be a higher-level executive outside of the student’s direct chain of command. Mentors and mentees will be jointly trained in how to maximize the impact of mentoring so that mentees are well armed with the tools necessary to succeed in the corporate culture.

Accountability Ally

Each student is assigned a specific partner from his/her cohort. That colleague is an encourager to keep that student moving in a positive direction and a prod to ensure that the student is following through on the commitments expected of participants.

Emotional Competence Development

The foundation of great leadership is high emotional competence. This training experience at the first meeting of the Leadership Academy (“The Emotional Wiring of Great Leaders”) builds the leadership strength of participants. Its assessment nature also provides a foundation for coaching, helps to build relationships within the cohort, and equips participants with input to their stated personal development goals for the Leadership Academy.

Leadership Training

Students go through several modules of instruction spread throughout the Academy. They are based on a course Sam previously taught to second-year MBAs in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. This highly interactive training focuses on building engagement and accountability in the employees that the students supervise.


WebEx presentations play three key roles. One, they are used to supplement face-to-face meetings as needed. Two, their recordings are available to participants forced to miss scheduled meetings. Three, they can carry a portion of the instructional load for global participants. (When a cohort is spread overseas or at multiple U.S. locations, these webinars follow a multiple-day face-to-face kick-off meeting at a location best suited to that cohort. Ideally, a similar face-to-face meeting also brings the Leadership Academy to a close.)

Twitter "Tweets"

Students find it beneficial to have a Twitter account. This enables Sam Deep every other day to tweet a profound quotation uttered by a notable person. He includes a leadership tip inspired by the quotation. The tip, which is directly connected to central Academy concepts, recommends specific actions to take to meet the challenges of leadership.

Business Function Cross-Training

Functional leaders of HR, Finance, Legal, Operations, Health and Safety, and Sales and Marketing are called in for presentations. The purpose is to increase participant understanding of the total business, break down silos, and increase the quality of internal customer service when these candidates assume their new responsibilities.

Cross-Generational Training

As appropriate, students and their managers may be sensitized to the sometimes-contrasting views of life and work of emerging versus established leaders. The goals will be to help all generations communicate well with each other, collaborate fully with each other, and learn from the strengths of each other.

In-Basket Scenarios

Throughout their training, students will be placed into specific management situations requiring responses that reflect the learning they’ve received. Examples might include having to fire an employee, take a call from an angry customer, respond to an accusation from a colleague, represent the boss at a board meeting, or be interviewed by the media on a compliance issue. They will respond to specific questions about how they plan to handle the challenges, receive feedback from their colleagues, coaches, and managers, and discuss their responses in cohort meetings.

Corporate Culture Training

Students will learn how to incorporate the core values of the company into their personal behavior and into their leadership as well as how to empower their teams and direct reports to do the same thing.

Organizational Development

Almost invariably, Leadership Academy cohorts seize the opportunity to have positive impact on their organizations within the context of particular units of instruction. For example, one cohort took advantage of their study of “Engagement Through Teambuilding” to devise a process to reduce the negative impact of silo behavior on functional teams that rely on each other within their business.

Break-Through Goal

In addition to preparing students for more challenging leadership responsibilities, the Leadership Academy equips them to have significant impact on their current work. By the end of the first six months, they are expected to establish a transformational objective to achieve within their existing job sometime during the second six months of their development. The members of their cohort and their coaches act as accountability partners in this process. During the last six months of their cohort, they will evaluate the impact of their goals.

Read more about the Break-Through Goal.

Formative and Summative Evaluation

Student progress and learning is assessed as follows. (A) The coach will meet with the student’s manager and mentor at the six- and 12-month point to assess student progress and agree on any indicated actions. (B) The student’s manager must approve the student’s Break-Through Goal and will presumably monitor progress toward it and accomplishment of it with the student. (C) The 360° Assessment may be re-administered during the Academy to indicate any refocused learning needed by students. (D) Students will make a final report to a special committee—often the company senior team—on the results of their Break-Through Goal.