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Lead Inside the Box



Another winner from Mike Figliouolo.  I just love his first book One Piece of Paper, so I couldn't wait to get my copy of Lead Inside the Box.  The title had me very curious as I know Mike as an "out of the box" kind of leader.  What is offered is a pragmatic and effective approach of The Leadership Matrix.  It's not just another 4-box model that we've seen before, it is a strategic tool to help you measure the output of your team members and the investment you are making in them (input or leadership capital.)  

Mike and co-author Victor Prince then provide 12 leadership services, or competencies, that we can then really analyze our team members and how they are performing compared to what we are investing.  

This will be a must-read for any leader looking to conduct a talent review for high potential development (exemplars.)  b2ap3_thumbnail_20150410-Leadership-Matrix.pngThey offer a frank vernacular to differentiate the various players on your team.  

"Steamroller" and "Squeaky Wheels" or high-cost producers are those team members that can be disruptive, yet deliver their results.  

Their behavior invariably causes casualties on a high-performing team, and this book offers excellent coaching advice on how to approach them.

I will be sure to order several copies and offer them to my coaching clients.


More on Gratitude

As I sit on the balcony of our room in historic Shepherdstown, WV, the sun slowly rising over the landscape, sunrisethe Potomac lazily winding the bend, I take pause and breathe in gratitude. The birds are singing a soliloquy and the air on my skin is tepid. 

A fisherman is anchored in his canoe in the distance. What a lovely morning it is.

I have grown accustomed to traveling on my birthday. For many years it was to the beautiful beaches of Ogunquit, ME. This year we will check out South Carolina, but not until next week, so we decided to go away for the night. I wanted some place close, but still feel like it's an escape. We landed at The Bavarian Inn. Wonderful service, accommodations, infinity pool, and delectable dining. It may have been one of my best birthdays.

As I gazed over the crest of the infinity pool (that looks like is flows into the Potomac!) I met a woman and started chatting. infinitypoolI had observed her earlier, lent a pair of swimming goggles to her young daughter. She was gorgeous, early to mid 30's. Tall, blonde, perfect figure. I don't know what story I made up about her, but I guessed she was a single mom. Indeed she was, and also an attorney – partner in a good sized law firm in a coastal town in California. We started talking about the sacrifices we make when we are the financial support system. She shared with me that she is the youngest by far and only woman partner in her firm. The next oldest is 22 years her senior. She is routinely sexually harassed. She manages to brush it off and focus on the work, but it's a distraction, degrading, stressful, and she makes only a portion of her male counterparts. There is no one to report it to, and she knows her position would be at risk if she did anything about it. It's like a prison in many ways – few choices – stuck. She is planning her escape by venturing out on her own. Another talented woman leaving the mainstream. She wants to provide a good life for her daughter and use her God-given talent to serve her clients well.
It hit me that we still have a long way to go. I want better for my daughter. I hope for a workforce where there is zero tolerance for harassment. Where being grabbed is wrong, and being professional prevails. She said that Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech about pay equality has triggered legislation to make pay disparity illegal.

So it takes me back to gratitude. I thank God everyday for The Ermi Group. I get to help my clients everyday. It's my mininstry. I love my job and I am paid fairly for it. I can't recall the last time I was harassed. Although I had my fair share in the past.

I saw something recently that those who live with a spirit of gratitude live longer. And certainly happier.

Recent Comments
Guest — Ann V Deaton, PhD, PCC
Lori, Great post. I've found myself very grateful at how much things are changing for women with respect to opportunities, pay dis... Read More
Tuesday, 14 July 2015 22:23
Crista Leonard
Thank you Ann!
Wednesday, 15 July 2015 00:52

Spotlight on Talent: Always Be Prepared: Katie Lusby


Written by: Lexie Ermi


Katie2Katie Lusby is the Publications Editor/Coordinator at a Publications Editor/Coordinator government agency in the DC metro area with a bachelor's degree in English and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and publishing. Her story proves the efficacy and use of a liberal arts degree in a world where technical and specified degrees are becoming increasingly desired.

Katie started as a staff writer at the agency and went back to school to get her master's while still working there. In her initial position as staff writer she worked with legislative and public affairs, writing briefings (which involved research), speeches, and correspondence for higher level officials. Her degree, with its emphasis on graphic design and publishing, provided the experience needed when an editor position opened up and she received the promotion.

When the editor position opened up and Katie stepped into it, she found herself working with more marketing materials such as brochures and managing the production process of those materials. Katie's master's degree program prepared her well for this as it taught her to understand the layout of a book or a publication, particularly in her final project for the program. The program was half creative writing, in which Katie's focus was poetry, and half book making and publication design; the two sides were married in the final project in which the students had to create a book full of text they had written themselves. Katie's book was called "How to Build a Sky" and while it honed her writing skills it also honed her ability to create an appropriate and eye pleasing layout.

Writing uses a different side of the brain than the technical side of publication. Katie said that she had been so focused on English and writing her whole life that her experience in the design programs expanded her abilities and provided her the ability to use that opposite side of the brain. "There is more and more of a need for writers to do more than write, so having a marketable skill set came in handy," Katie said. "Not only can I write for you, I can also lay this out, present this visually, and so on."book7

"My English degree taught me analytic skills and how to learn new subject matter quickly," Katie explained. "There are lots of jobs in the government where they don't necessarily need content expertise, they need people who can write well and can learn the content as they go." And as Katie further expostulated, "I really enjoy parts of my job – it's not always as creative as I would like, but it is a challenge to write government publications in a lively way that is reachable to the public." These are words of wisdom in a world where the "perfect" job is increasingly sought after.

"I never had clear expectations of what I wanted to do," Katie continued. "I had a plan through school and then it became what would that translate to when I graduated. I taught English for some time while figuring it out. The job with the government really fell into my lap and I just took opportunities as they came up."

Katie's story shows the advantages that come from being prepared for anything that may arise and come your way.


The Ermi Group Turns 7!

b2ap3_thumbnail_7-years.jpgOn January 10, 2008, I was having lunch with a former boss doing the networking thing wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my career.  You see, I had just left a corporate gig two months earlier, intentionally took December off to spend with family, celebrate my baby turning one, see her first steps, and recover from a very stressful season.  I had been interviewing for Chief Human Capital Officer positions, contemplating a learning and development focus, and secretly wishing I could be a full-time coach after graduating from the Georgetown Leadership Coaching program in 2006. 

During this lunch my old boss shared he was going to be leaving his current position and moving to a new company and he would want some help with creating a leadership development strategy and would I be interested in consulting for him. 

At that moment, The Ermi Group was born.  I immediately drove to PNC Bank and opened a business checking account.  On the way there I realized I need a company name.  My dad (and hero) started his own firm many moons ago and called himself The Evans Group, so I figured that was good enough for me.   I tend to not overthink these epiphanies because I will just screw it up if I do!  I used this same strategy when it was clear adoption was in my future.  From surrendering to the notion and baby in arms was a swift 7 months.  And only 5 months from when we were official with a home study.   Anyway, I digress…look a bird!

Back to the story.  Seven years ago I took a giant leap of faith and declared I was a leadership development and human capital solutions firm.  I found a web designer (thank you Pinix Design Studio) and by February I had my first client. 

I cannot tell you how blessed and grateful I am for this profession.  I coach about 80% of the time now, and still love the occasional training gig, keynote and facilitation.  I am surrounded by the most amazing coaches in our cadre, and as mentors and friends.  The Georgetown coach community is a plethora of wisdom and generosity.  Crista Leonard, my Business Analyst, reads my mind and helps me in countless ways.  My husband is the most supportive and all I could ask for as he holds down the fort and makes sure the household is running smoothly so I can focus on building the business and serving my clients well. 

I learn, stretch and grow every day.  I wake up each morning loving my job, and able to be a part of my 8 year old girl's daily life.  I think I only missed one major event of hers at school and that was because I had the time wrong on my calendar! 

I never dreamed that being my own boss for seven years was even possible.  My husband’s stroke in 2002 has kept him out of the workforce, so I have been the primary earner since then.  And each year I am able to say I love what I do, and I am keeping my family fed, my oldest daughter recently graduated from college, and my little one is in second grade at The Trinity School of Frederick.  It also helps that my Pastors pray for me and my business on a regular basis!  Thank you Damascus Road Community Church!

b2ap3_thumbnail_shingle.jpgIf you have been thinking about starting your own small business, do it!  Break through the fear, and hang out your shingle. 

Here are a few articles and resources to fuel you!

Entrepreneurship is the New Women's Movement - Forbes

WOSB State 2014

US Chamber Report

SBA - Write a Business Plan

US Women's Chamber of Commerce Certifications

Recent Comments
Guest — Shari Anderson
Wow........ 7 years !! Congratulations Lore ! What an amazing mother, wife, and business woman you are ! Wishing you many more ... Read More
Saturday, 10 January 2015 02:38
Guest — Toni Young
Congratulations, Lori on a great seven years! Best wishes for continued success.
Saturday, 10 January 2015 14:22
Guest — Jan Day Gravel
Congratulations on an impactful 7 years - not only for you but for the clients you serve! Your story is an inspiration to anyone ... Read More
Saturday, 10 January 2015 17:13

Being Coached: An Interview with the Author

Being Coached: An Interview with the Author


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By Lexie Ermi

Holly Williams, coaching founder and president of MAGUS Group, has penned a book called Being Coached: Group and Team Coaching from the Inside. Her years in the field of executive coaching provide her with the expertise and knowledge needed to competently write a book of this nature. Holly took the time to sit down with me and explain the impetus behind her desire to write a book and the impact she hopes the book will have on her readers. 

"I wanted to write about how coaching lands on leaders and explain what it is liked to be coached," Holly explains. "I wanted the book to be inspiring for coaches who don't know how coaching lands on leaders and I also wanted leaders to see that it is not that intimidating to be coached."

My next question for Holly was, "What gave you the spark to create a model for group coaching to begin with?" She answers in detail, "Before I became a coach, I helped teams develop using drama improv methodology. After a few years of coaching executives with just the two of us in an office, I found that I missed the energy of a group of leaders all wanting to develop together. I love the way coaching works--with the leader being accountable for his/her development. So I started experimenting with coaching groups of leaders, and after a year had a great model that I have coached groups successfully with ever since!"

Holly went on to explain that there is no book on the market that fulfills the same goal as her new book. Most other books instead approach leadership coaching as a how to list of steps that must be achieved, using either case studies or purely expository writing to explain how to become a better leadership coach. The genesis of the book, Holly said, was having something to say about coaching and having a desire to put that across in a unique way. If a leader is curious about what it is like to be coached, this book will fulfill that need. It bridges the gap between leader and coach, making each more accessible to the other.

Being Coached is split into two parts. The first part covers group coaching and follows eight leaders, telling the story from their perspective. The second half covers team coaching with six executives who work together. The number of characters varies from chapter to chapter. Holly is working on another book that is similar in nature. It is about coaching and follows leaders in an organization who develop their coaching skills and how that plays out. "I might be done after this one – but who knows!" Holly explains.

"I was surprised by how much I truly enjoyed the writing process," Holly says. "I really enjoy writing and I think that comes across in the book. The book is a lot of conversation, just like coaching. That was the easy and fun part. The book really wrote itself. You know how people say the characters take over? That was the experience I had." While the writing was the easiest part, Holly goes on to say the hardest part was finding the time to actually write. Sitting down and writing for eight hours was impossible for her; instead, the process came about a lot more naturally by working a few hours every day in between her work that took up the normal day. beingcoached

The whole book took two and a half years to write and publish. The barriers to publishing are lower than they have ever been because of things such as self-publishing. "It was tons of fun to have a hand in how the book would look and sound and feel. When you go with a mainstream publisher, you lose control of the book.

"My favorite part, besides the writing, is when people actually read it and talk about it with me. We've been getting reviews on Amazon and getting to read them – does it get any better than that?" Holly laughs.
Holly's book is sold on Amazon and we can look forward to her companion book, which she is currently in the process of writing, coming out in the future.

About Holly: Holly is a member of the Georgetown Institute for Transformational Leadership faculty, and her background includes leadership in a Fortune 50 Technology firm, as well as setting up business training programs for a Virginia community college. For over 15 years, her company has worked with executives and groups in business and government.

Being Coached is for sale on Amazon and will be available as a free Kindle download from Dec. 19-21, 2014.



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