Stepping Up

How Leaders Are Rising to the Occasion

Throughout the Small Giants Community and beyond, leaders are doing what’s right when it matters most. These are their stories.

How to Care for Your People and Invest in Their Growth


Vivayic offers learning solutions that strike a balance between solid research and lived experience. Vivayic is a 100% virtual team and its purpose is to build others’ capacity to do good in the world.

For Small Giants, no matter what in the world around you changes, your core purpose remains the same. At times, it may feel like everything in the world has changed — but purpose-driven leaders are relying on the strength of their culture, its purpose and values, and most of all their people to see them through.

A leader is only as good as their team, and putting your people first and investing in them is not only the right thing to do, it’s good business. But with so many teams working from home, how do you provide meaningful growth opportunities for your team? How do you cultivate a caring culture in times of change? And what kind of training is most beneficial to your people and your organization right now?

Meaningful Growth Opportunities for Your Team

If you ask leaders what their top priorities are right now (and we did!), one of their top answers is growing their people. That’s because purpose-driven leaders know that the innovation, collaboration and dedication of their team members is what will help them thrive through this time and come out stronger on the other side. Training is especially important for those roles and positions where there’s limited upward mobility. Training offers a path for development even when there’s no role to grow into.

But prioritizing training right now isn’t easy — many teams are dispersed, the mental load is heavier than ever, and there are distractions abound. But offering your people opportunities to grow is a great way to support them through this time, show you care and offer them the chance to level up, personally and professionally. Here’s how three leaders are putting training first.

In this installment of Stepping Up, we’re talking to leaders with creative, bold ideas for training and caring for employees in order to come out of this a stronger, more connected team.

Your Company Picnic Isn’t Cancelled

Missing your team’s in-person events, like the annual company picnic or quarterly team meeting? There are plenty of ways to facilitate meaningful events virtually, and Vivayic’s recent two-day team meeting is a great example of how to get it right.

For Vivayic’s leadership team, their go-to training program for emerging leaders is the Small Giants Leadership Academy. Vivayic is a longtime Small Giant, and they believe in offering training opportunities for the entire team.

Vivayic has always been a virtual company, but they usually get together in-person three times a year for team meetings. June is typically a big summer event that gathers team members in a fun location for a few days of planning, training, and celebration — this year may have looked different, but it was special in its own way.

Here’s a glance at the agenda:

Day 1

Day 2

  • Fun Activity/Icebreaker: Led By a New Team Member
  • Small Giants Community Guest Speaker: Tom Walter, Founder of Tasty Catering and Jamie Pritscher, Co-Founder of That’s Caring and nuphoriq
  • Quarterly Book Club: Breakout discussion groups
  • 2-Hour Professional Development Breakout Session
    • Project Owners: Team members share best practices
    • Designers: Live Skillshare course for practical learning of new technical skills

Leading up to the meeting, team members started posting photos of past trips and sharing funny hashtags about the ‘new normal.’ There was a lot of build up to this meeting, and everyone was really disappointed they couldn’t gather in-person. The leadership team knew they had to find ways to make the meeting special.

Although they’d presented it as a two-day virtual event, the calendar invite they sent to everyone blocked out three days.

“After two days of meeting, we wanted to celebrate with a virtual family picnic on Thursday morning,” says Candice Gouge. “We sent yard games, picnic baskets, toys for kids and pets, and snacks for the meeting days to their homes. We started the third day with an hour of family games on Zoom. We had 70 people — team members, spouses, kids, and siblings — competing in fun games and competitions.”

After the picnic’s virtual kick-off, families dispersed to enjoy their picnics and a day off, posting photos to the company Snapchat and taking part in fun contests like dessert and cocktail competitions.

Small Giants know that their team members are getting them through this downturn, and they’ll be the ones leading the way for the upturn. The leaders you met in this article all have one thing in common: they never stopped investing in leadership development.

Growing confident, emotionally intelligent leaders who understand the business, can set clear expectations, and inspire teams is the best way to future-proof your business. Atomic Object, Life’s Abundance, and Vivayic all have certified Small Giants on their team, and they are thriving today thanks to a deep bench of leadership talent.

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What do these leaders have in common?

These leaders are part of Small Giants companies — companies that prioritize their purpose and culture and invest in their emerging leaders.

One way Small Giants companies invest in their next generation of leaders is by enrolling them in the Small Giants Leadership Academy. This robust one-year certification program consists of virtual learning sessions with expert leaders and coaches, an extensive resource library, on-the-ground meetups with your cohort, a leadership assessment, and your event ticket to two Small Giants gatherings.

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