The middle market is full of founder-led companies whose cultures are key elements of their connection to customers. As companies grow, those cultural traits tend to be diluted by process. Process may be inevitable; dilution is not. Bring leaders into the classroom to teach, bring in presentations by academics or outsiders, and, above all, tell stories. Just because a company is mature doesn’t mean it has to lose its character.

Once you’re ready to start developing your leaders, where should you begin your search? Major universities’ executive MBA programs can be excellent, but their cost, time commitment, and focus on challenges typical of large enterprises can make them a less-than-optimal fit for the middle market. Most community colleges have continuing education programs that have programming or workshops that can help. But if you want something that’s a great fit, start by reaching out to your network and find out what worked best for them. Remember that the most important consideration is that the program you choose is right for an organization like yours.

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