FAQ

 Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions about the Scalable Leaders Program.

Who is the Program best suited for?

Any leader who is involved in building tech products, e.g. Engineering Managers, Heads of Products, Design leads.

No matter whether your manager is supportive or very hands-off, this program will help you raise the bar for leadership at your organisation – especially if you never had formal leadership training or coaching.

We also welcome founders, leaders of other functions at tech companies, and anyone leading neurodiverse teams.

Who is the instructor of the program?

Most sessions will be run by Benjamin F. Wirtz, who has 15 years experience in tech companies, including Atlassian and Google.

He has held Senior Product & Technology leadership roles at multiple startups and scaleups, has experienced the highs of launching products that make hundreds of millions of dollars, and lows of having to make entire teams redundant.

Benjamin started out as a ‘nerd’ without an ounce of leadership in him, but the firm belief that leaders are made and not born.

A few years later, he was running the highest engaged team at his employer, built a reputation as a ‘natural leader’, and his reports went on to become senior leaders in their own right.

The teams Benjamin has led with his Scalable Leader approach have seen KPIs increase beyond expectations.

Do I really need a leadership development program?

Good managers who take the time to invest in you as a leader are hard to find. Most just expect you to deliver results. It’s ‘leadership development by osmosis’, and it doesn’t work for most people in tech.

Even if your manager has all the best intentions to train you up themselves, it’s easy for urgent projects and ‘firefighting’ to suck up all the time you spend together.

They may also be a great manager, but maybe not the most effective teacher for your learning style.

Plus, let’s face it, being vulnerable with your manager and saying “I don’t know how to do this” is daunting.

So how do you know what ‘good’ or even ‘great’ looks like?

And how do you get there ASAP, without years of reinventing the wheel?

That’s our reason for being. Our IKIGAI.

Why is leading teams in Tech extra hard?

Leadership can be a natural transition in many professions, e.g. in sales or consulting.

In Engineering, Design, Product and adjacent functions however, the skills that make you successful in your craft are often very different from the skills you need as a leader. That makes the step up harder, and means you will probably benefit from extra support and structured guidance.

Chances are, your interpersonal skills are ok if you have been considered for a leadership role, but because you are still expected to be an expert in your craft (e.g. most CTOs are still expected to be across new technologies and the ever evolving system architecture), your growth journey is now twice as intense. That additional stress will have an impact on your relationships at work and outside – it has a habit creating vicious cycles.

On top of that, you are dealing with the biological certainty of a highly neurodivergent team and stakeholders. At least 20% of the world’s population is neurodivergent – affected by conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourette’s – and some studies put this number closer to 40-50% in tech teams.

Many adults are still undiagnosed and unaware. So those ‘difficult’ team members might actually have a brain that works different to yours, and you will need to pick up the skills to judo-move them.

Future leaders are expected to be both, high performing and inclusive. You will need to deliver results, inspire and motivate, learn how to hire and manage people who ‘think differently’, and turn people under you into leaders in their own right.

That’s a hard journey, especially if you walk it alone.

Why is leading teams in Startups/Scaleups extra hard?

How many founders have become world-class leaders of large companies? There are a handful, granted, but it also took them 10 years and they had ‘all the money in the world’ at their disposal.

The simple fact is, most startup founders are primarily thinking of growing the business, and growing themselves as leaders is an afterthought.

Most got ‘hired’ into their role as founder by investors – based on their business plans, not their leadership capability. And unlike a ‘skip manager’ in larger companies, most investors will spend little to no time in the day to day of the business to give guidance around leadership.

What’s logical in terms of risk management initially tends to stay a habit over time. after all, the founder’s initial success provides great ammunition to justify all manner of habits. Eventually, it becomes difficult to reflect whether they are successful ‘because of’ or ‘despite’ certain habits, especially for founders without a significant leadership experience in other organisations where they did not have ultimate authority.

So, how would leaders who report to founders get any real indicator of what ‘good’ or even ‘great’ leadership looks like?

Most leadership ‘best practices’ were developed in and for large organisations. Organisations who are not under the constant uncertainty of funding in startups and scaleups and constant threat of innovating or dying. Yet the company and people are expected to ‘punch above their weight’ in this uncertain environment.

On top of that, you are dealing with the biological certainty of a highly neurodivergent team and stakeholders. At least 20% of the world’s population is neurodivergent – affected by conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourette’s – and that number tends to be higher in tech and teams that successfully innovate. In fact, many founders are neurodivergent themselves, often without realising it.

Future leaders are expected to be both, high performing and inclusive. You will need to deliver results, inspire and motivate, learn how to hire and manage people who ‘think differently’, and turn people under you into leaders in their own right.

That’s a hard journey, especially if you walk it alone.

Can I pay in instalments?

Yes, Zip and Klarna are available at Checkout, as well as Credit/Debit card.

Is it really worth it?

We won’t put a number on being happy, fulfilled, avoiding burnout or simply doing right by the people around you.

But we can show you how to do the math from a purely financial perspective with a few examples.

Salary increase:

The average salary increase for leadership roles in tech is about $30,000 per year – excluding bonuses and additional equity often granted to leaders. Say you have another 20 year career ahead of you – those additional lifetime earnings would equal $600,000. Even if you pay 50% tax, that means $300,000 more in your pocket. That is a 9,900% ROI (26% annualised) for our 10 week program if you pay full price yourself.

Faster promotion:

The average time to get promoted in a large company is about 3 years. Say every pay bump is worth about $30,000 (without additional bonuses and equity grants). If this program helps you achieve a promotion every 2.5 years instead of 3 years, your additional earnings over a 20 year period would be $390,000. Even if you pay 50% tax, that means $195,000 more in your pocket. That is over 6,40% (23.2% annualised).

Making the case to your employer:

Some employers will fully or co-fund leadership development – a wise investment considering you are probably managing hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars worth of payroll.

Say you are in your first leadership role, managing 5 people with an average salary of $120,000 (excluding bonuses or equity grants). You have a payroll responsibility of $600,000 – excluding your own salary.

If you can make this team 10% more effective through better leadership, that equates to $60,000 of productivity gained – a 1,900% ROI in year 1. And that’s excluding positive impacts on metrics like retention / cost to re-hire.

Note: For any amount you pay yourself, you may be able to get a tax-offset for self-education expenses. Please discuss this with a tax professional.

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