"Connecting with people at a personal level is the key to contribute to a greater cause and consistently make a real and sustainable difference." - Steffan Surdek

Steffan Surdek

Leadership, Change and Productivity Expert

Steffan Surdek has always been driven to expand the notion of leadership to include each member of the team. For fifteen years’, Surdek was a high performing serial achiever in many small and large companies throughout his career. He always enjoyed taking on leadership roles in every company as one of his core passions was to make a positive impact for his teams and colleagues while increasing profits for the owner. His co-creative and intentional leadership topics were developed after noticing the challenges that he, other managers and his teams faced throughout his career.

He carefully observed different communication, leadership and working styles within the workplace and noticed that through having a co-creative approach in dealing with strategy, conflict and business decisions that decisions were made more efficient and effectively in most situations.  Steffan Surdek helps leaders understand how to recognize high performing workers and to put them in the right positions. He stresses the importance of getting high performers and managers to motivate other staff members in order to increase productivity and workplace moral.

Surdek believes that connecting with people at a personal level is the key that allows him to contribute to a greater cause and consistently make a real and sustainable difference with his clients both in their professional and personal lives. Steffan Surdek is often asked to speak at global conferences about the power of co-creative leadership and leveraging the power of teams. His passionate and dynamic storytelling style engages audiences and makes the learning stick. Steffan Surdek also writes and speaks about authentic and co-creative leadership for many different businesses and organizations. Surdek is high demand as a leadership development coach and corporate trainer based in Montreal. As a widely recognized principal consultant, his work has a strong business impact, helping reshape business cultures and guiding them in becoming more collaborative and efficient.

Steffan Surdek is a passionate storyteller and uses relevant examples from his experiences through his consulting practice. His presentation style is interactive, and feels more like a conversation with the audience which helps create and authentic connection with each audience member. He is an expert at creating and teaching leaders to maintain high performing teams. Steffan Surdek offers strategical insights on leadership, change management, team building and increasing productivity for better business results.

Topic Presentations

What is the leadership of the leaders in your organization creating compliance or engagement? If you want to provoke a different kind of leadership in your organization, Steffan brings you a formula for a new age approach for your management and leadership team. Co-creative leadership proposes the type of leadership required to create a working environment that results in increased collaboration, better communication, collective ownership and a focus on high quality results.

Co-creative leaders:


  • Identify, awaken and empower the dormant leaders in their organization

  • Are a voice among many when collaborating with their teams

  • Inspire and foster engagement rather than compliance

  • Embody and model the values they believe in both at home and at work

  • Are aware and take ownership of their personal impact on the people around them

  • Encourage teams to learn from their mistakes and through experimentation

Many organizations around the world are currently going through a deep crisis where many leaders are suffering in silence. On one side, we can see executives, directors and managers that are questioning the effectiveness of their current leadership style and how it engages their teams in the current workplace. On the other side, we find all those dormant leaders in organizations, who have tremendous leadership skills outside their workplace but they cannot use these skills where they work because the company culture says they do not have the right title to lead.

In the first part of this talk we explore the current state of leadership inside of organizations through the following key distinctions: leadership vs directivity, compliance vs engagement, values vs behaviors, leadership vs authenticity. In the second half of the talk, through a different set of key distinctions, we explore a more open and collaborative leadership style that allows leaders to create a more engaged workforce that maximizes contributions of the people around them.

Here is a high level structure for the talk:


  • Topic introduction / setup

  • Understanding the polarity between "directivity" and "leadership"

  • The polarity between "compliance" and "engagement"

  • Bringing more authenticity and vulnerability in leadership

  • Why intentional leadership can only happen intentionally

  • Why leadership also implies co-creation

  • Understanding the distinction between management and leadership

  • What are dormant leaders and why should you wake them up

  • Conclusion and wrap-up


Learning Outcomes:

  • How authenticity and vulnerability can empower your leadership.

  • How understanding the distinction between leadership and management can help you and your organization thrive.

  • How to maximize the potential of dormant leaders in your organization.

  • Why co-creation is a skill you need to acquire as a leader to successfully engage your employees or colleagues.

The book Tribal Leadership introduces five stages that represent a range of behaviors that tribes (ie.: groups of 20 or more people) act and think together. These stages range from Stage 1 where "Life Sucks!" to Stage 5 where "Life is Great!". Most software development teams (and most workplaces) live in the three stages in between.

This talk takes group development model presented in Tribal Leadership and helps leaders and managers better understand some of the behaviors they may see every day in their development teams. Participants will experience and explore the stages in various ways such as through music and an interactive game called "Guess that Tribal Stage".

"Steffan's work really brings together the worlds of Tribal Leadership and Agile software development in an interesting way. I think highly of him and how he brings these worlds together in a clear and simple way."

Dave Logan, co-author of the NY Times best-selling book Tribal Leadership

Process and Timeline

1.0. Introduction to the five tribal cultural stages

1.1. The cultural map

1.2. The structural map

2.0. Identifying stages

2.1. Interactive game: Guess that Tribal Stage!

3.0. Helping your teams evolve

3.1. Noticing where the team is at

3.2. Moving people through the stages

3.3. Using triads to foster collaboration

3.4. Key distinctions to help team members evolve through the stages.

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this talk, the participants will be able to:

* Identify the five cultural stages through language and relationship structures

* Recognize the dominant cultural stage in their teams

* Use a basic tool set to help team members evolve through the stages.

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