For over 30 years I have been involved in the process of leading people and organizations, developing strategies, and worrying about how future leaders should be developed.
From the football field to the Marines, from the high-speed action of Nike to the intense complexities of the high-tech startup world, and from Vice President to Entrepreneur, I’ve covered a lot of ground and have seen how leadership makes a difference.
I’ve seen organizations who promote their people into leadership responsibilities without giving them any framework for success. In those cases, the leader is miserable, his or her people are miserable, and the production of the group falls to a stand-still. The results are always catastrophic.
On the other hand, I’ve seen great organizations such as Nike, who invest heavily in the development and support of their leadership talent. While in the Marines I spent almost a third of my 13 years in some sort of school or training, that is an organization that believes in developing people. While at Nike, I noticed the first thing they did for their new managers was to send them to a week-long course called Basic People Management skills. These were profound examples and are modeled heavily in our programs.
Leaders need opportunity to discuss, share, and study leadership in a safe environment, to be able to ask questions, and to dig deep within themselves to discover their capabilities and potential.
If you are genuinely interested in leading people, then you’ll want to get to know us. Our goal is to advance the art of leadership. We believe leadership is both a learned skill and an acquired art. To be good at leadership requires constant study, practice, self-evaluation, and an eagerness to learn from others.
We don’t teach the typical surface concepts of leadership. We dig deep and work to help our clients understand how their leadership affects the lives of the people they lead. For example, have you ever thought about the overused word of “empowerment?” So often leaders throw that word around and think they are doing good. However, if a leader says they are empowering someone, but don’t give them the two key elements of empowerment (authority and resources) then all they’ve done is employed the word empowerment as a therapeutic fiction. That technique always backfires when people ultimately discover the truth, and they always do.
How leaders work with their people determines success or failure, especially in the modern age where people are incredibly knowledgeable, independent, creative, and enjoy doing great things. As a leader you’ll either enable the talents of those around you to blossom and grow, or you’ll stifle capability and frustrate the very people who could help you be successful. Most leaders who are failing don’t even recognize it until it is too late.
So, we don’t focus on the typical feel good ideas of leadership. Rather, we teach contemporary tactics grounded in the notion that leading people is an important art and a developed skill.
We would love to hear from you.
Gordon E. Whitehead, D. Mgt.
Our Passion and Our Content
Come from Experience and Research
|The United States Marine Corps is one of the best examples of how to develop the future leaders of your organization. They focus on people development and are unafraid to invest significant time to help their people grow. Courses such as Bootcamp, or Officer Candidate School, Leadership Academies, correspondence courses, an emphasis on professional reading, and an almost daily focus on learning the art of leadership makes this organization one to model if you are interested in building leaders that advance the goals of your organization.
|Nike is more than Just Do It, a cadre of star athletes, and products that enable athletes to perform. Nike invests in people internally and externally. When I worked at Nike they sent their first-time managers to a Basic People Management course. But, it was anything but basic. In that course managers learn about the qualities of what makes a successful leader. They learn about building trust and loyalty. They learn about hiring and firing. And they learn about how to coach someone who might be struggling, or how to help your superstar performer advance in his or her career. It gets better. Nike then sends their more senior leaders to a constant barrage of internal advanced leadership trainings that not only deepen the understanding of leadership but broaden the leader’s network and creates a peer-network structure that strengthen both Nike and the individual. Their attitude on leadership is well documented. I’ll never forget what Phil Knight, Nike’s founder said: “I hire good people, assign them to an area they may not know much about, and then move them around every few years.” Nike knows that when their internal talent grows, Nike benefits.
|Now enter the world of corporations and startups that don’t always care about developing people. I’ve seen big companies sacrifice long-dedicated talent in unnecessary layoffs to grab a short-term stock gain. The hard facts are that many companies, without knowing it, don’t pay attention to developing people, or they are willing to develop people but only to a certain extent. Even within these structures there is much to learn about leading people and I learned as much from the frustrating leaders I encountered as I did from the great leaders I’ve tried to model.
|I’ve spent a considerable portion of my life in leadership roles with young people. As the Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Varsity Football Coach for a repeating championship team I learned the importance of authentic leadership. Nobody can tell a phony faster than a 16 year old high school athlete. I began to study what young athletes and high school leaders know about leadership. The results were impressive. Youth naturally form self-organizing teams, auto-select peer leaders, and those leaders have tremendous influence for both good and bad. The power of a leader at that young level became an impressive phenomenon for me and I began to make correlations with how good and bad leadership works inside of corporations. I was not surprised to find that great organizations have leadership models that resemble the essentials of a winning team: Morale is high, People are Proficient in their technical roles, the organization has the Discipline to stay focused on goals, and people actually enjoy being with each other – Esprit de Corps. When these same elements are focused on by leaders of any organization and of any size, the team quickly moves into high performance and big time achievement.
|Education has been a central part of my life. I received my doctorate from George Fox University – one of the finest schools I’ve ever seen. My doctorate focused on management and leadership. That’s where I learned the importance of thinking about management and leadership from a liberal arts point of view, something that Peter Drucker thought important. I discovered that some of the most profound leadership training comes from the most surprising sources. More powerful than a good business book is a fictional novel, a movie, or piece of music, or a work of art. From literature and forms of art we are able to understand the complex interplay between people because in those forms of expression we are able to observe from a distance the interesting motivations and even hidden agendas of what makes people tick. The art of leadership is learning how to understand people, and how to engage people to accomplish objectives that are important to both parties.
We are doing something special.
And invite you to be part of it.