(This is a business case study. It will be used to guide discussions during the session: “How do you keep developing as a leader?” at the Vendo Partner Conference in Barcelona on Thursday, September 7th.)


Sean sat at his desk surrounded by a bunch of loud guys in their early 20’s cracking jokes. He didn’t get the jokes. Not because he couldn’t hear them. He could hear them just fine. It was just that the references and memes were…unfamiliar? The air around his desk was noisy with banter. Perhaps it was not an ideal work environment. Well, he’d know soon.

Six months before Sean had felt out of touch with his business. He wasn’t happy with his tech platform. His team wasn’t delivering what he wanted.

He was also sitting alone in an office set against the outer wall of his building. The corner office.

Sean had earned that office. His success in the industry is enviable. Over the last twenty years or so he has worked closely with highly talented and driven founders and executives. Of course, there were the brilliant founders with big personalities. But there was also a process maniac who showed Sean how to view companies as interacting systems. He helped Sean see growth opportunities that are often missed by maverick founders.

Sean has developed a network of peers and mentors. He calls them up regularly to discuss substantive topics related to his business. These conversations help him to continue to grow. He calls them allies because they have shared goals. They are friends, too, but allies in the sense that he believes they will tell him what he needs to hear…not shade the truth to make him feel good.

Recently he’s expanded his group of mentors to include his lowest level employees.

That’s why it’s so loud next to his desk. He’s in the bullpen.

He’s trying to learn from his grinders. It’s a combination of situational leadership and learning things that he may have missed or didn’t know. He’s trying to see them and the way they work clearly. He’s doing that to learn how to lead them better. It’s noisy and uncomfortable. And it feels like growth.

How do you keep developing as a leader?

  • What are your habits for continuous growth?
  • How do you bring third parties (mentors, coaches, etc.) into your development as a leader?
  • How do you use a coaching approach with our teams?