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American Society of Training and Development ICE 2012

ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) International Conference and Exposition was held in Denver this week.  I had attended these conventions at exciting locales for several years earlier in my career and went to last years’ conference in Orlando after a 15 year absence and just loved it.  I met so many wonderful, like-minded development professionals and convinced my friend and colleague Holly Williams, founder of Magus Group Coaching to submit a proposal for her innovative product Leadership Group Coaching.  She was accepted, and also signed up for a booth.  I love the energy of trade shows and enjoy the fun of talking to a diverse group of people.  Holly asked me to join her team (my new friend Laura Maddox) and ‘work’ the booth and support her efforts which I gladly accepted!

What an experience it was being on the other side of this conference.  It was fabulous!  Magus Group Coaching’s booth 1707 was the epitome of the feel of their philosophy and the karma of their founder.  It looked fabulous and we were all excited.  After a sprint back from opening session keynote Jim Collin’s of Good to Great fame, we were ready to receive over 8500 attendees from all over the globe.



I told Holly that her booth looked so fabulous she would probably win the Newcomer award for best booth, she laughed.  Well, after a long day of meeting a melting pot of diverse development professionals from places like Korea, China, Germany, Italy, Australia, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Brazil Japan, Nigeria and all over the US, the officials from ASTD came over to us with the coveted Best Booth Award for Newcomer’s.  I was so excited for my friend!  It was a thrilling moment.  So many came to us to congratulate us.  I love trainers!  Just happy, generous people.

What I did last year during lunch was float around to find just the right table to see who I was supposed to meet.  Last year it was the amazing Barb McLin with The Kevin Eikenberry Group.  This year it was the women from an entrepreneurial effort that was born from last years’ conference called Red Feather Networking.  Last year a group of colleagues wanted some way to easily identify one another in the sea of thousands of training professionals, and they all donned red feathers in their name tags. www.redfeathernetworking.com grew to over 400 people as a result!  The entrepreneurial spirit is alive with this phenomenal group of people.  I enjoyed them immensely.

Then on to the 4:00 session Group Coaching Laboratory with Holly’s best client Capital One there to also support the positive results of Magus Group Coaching.  It was standing room only!  We had to turn people away.  Had to give that day an A+!

Day two we experienced a wave of congratulatory comments as we were showcased for our booth win at the opening session with the likes of The Ken Blanchard Group.  An honor.  Again, great conversations with people who really ‘get’ the power of leadership coaching.  As with all trade shows, there comes a time when the attendance dips and everyone is off to their sessions, so this is the time we vendors get to walk around and check out all there is to offer.  I met some really cool people, and most of all Millennials.  Ahhhhh, new interviews for my book I am thinking!  The Epicurious Brit among them. An impressive woman now living in San Francisco educated in marketing, and passionate about food and wine.  I liked her immediately.

Maestro, a company that I can envision partnering with to take our programs to the next virtual level!  And Vertical, another technology savvy group that I will be learning a lot from.

I really like Denver.  The day before the conference I got to spend the day with a dear friend and her amazing family whom I have not seen since 1996, and another friend absent from my life since 8th grade.  It was joyous.

The city has a positive energy, the people are friendly and made every effort to make our stay here memorable.  I’d come back here again in a minute.  Perhaps some skiing now that I did not break anything when I rejoined the ranks of skiers this past year.

It was a outstanding week at ASTD and I look forward to growing personally and professionally as a result.

What are YOU doing to grow YOURself this year?

 

 

 

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Leadership Lessons from the Soccer Field

So I guess part of this blogging thing is getting to know the author a little bit.  I am married to Todd Ermi, a former leader at Procter & Gamble where we met, and he is also a stroke survivor.  We are blessed that he is with us today and he gets Father of the Year Awards in our house.  He is dad to 18+ year old Alexandra or Lexie (a college sophomore and literary genius), and is a stay-at-home dad to 4 1/2 year old Kate (preschooler extraordinaire).  I will blog about what we learned about the brain and recovery from Todd's 2001 episode in a future post.

Last weekend, Todd, Kate and I ventured to the damp soccer fields of our Montgomery County Maryland school district with dozens of other families to the kick off practice of the Damascus Soccer Club.  It was our first foray into this phenomenon that millions of others have blazed the trails before us.  Kate proudly dressed in shin guards, cleats and uniform dredged onto the field with a dozen or so other preschoolers for some soccer fun.  Coach Ivan was terrific.  He was fun and put the kids at ease immediately.  As I looked around at the three other teams, one of the other coaches had the kids immediately starting to scrimmage, but Coach Ivan took a different approach.  Now remember these kids are 3 and 4 for the most part.

    •  Instead of diving right into kicking the ball towards a goal, he got them warmed up.

 

    • Stretches, running drills, run forwards, backwards, sideways.

 

    • Little steps, big steps, run up to the lines on the field and stop before you cross it, catch the red towel, dodge the red towel, chase the Coach, block the Coach.



The kids were laughing and screaming and all along learning fundamentals of soccer, but it was more like play.  Then he introduced the ball. Before they actually started kicking the ball, the kids knew the boundaries, how to maneuver their bodies in different ways, and how to pay attention to the one with the red cloth.  The basics!  Now, let's use the ball, let's charge the goal, let's kick a goal, let's break into teams with the red pinnys (I hadn't thought of the word 'pinny' since high school - pinafore, do they even call them that anymore?!)

So why do we promote an individual contributor who has been relatively successful into a management role and start them immediately with the ball and expect them to score goals?  We assume they can figure it out on their own.  I literally heard a senior leader tell me the other day as he spoke of a newly promoted 28 year old, "they are smart, they can ask questions and they'll figure it out on their own."  Really?  Oh my...Do we really expect to give a new manager the ball and expect them to score a goal out of the gates?  There may be the rare one that can do this effectively, but let's get real people.  And let's go back to the soccer field and try again.  What are the boundaries of their decision making and influence?  What red towels do they need to avoid?  Follow?  Can they run backwards and forwards and sideways and not fall down too much, and if they fall, where do they go?  Who is their coach?  Is the coach qualified? Let's make learning fun!  And don't talk to them in a language that only DC United can understand, or Jack Welch.

Many companies understand the importance of new supervisor training and it is imbedded in their culture, however there are many others that are not investing in their growing talent, and they are missing out on an opportunity to strengthen their leadership bench and grow the talent from within. While on the surface this investment may be costly, but remember that regrettable turnover can cost 2 to 10 times the annual salary. Saving one regrettable loss due to lack of development can pay for a lot of development! Let's think about in terms of real cash.  Let's say the average salary of a new supervisor is $50,000 a year.  They leave because no one has invested in them.  At a minimum you have lost $50,000 in now having to interview and source for new people, the delay in work, missed deadlines, morale impact on others, etc.  You can provide some excellent development solutions with $50,000 and a lot less!

It more than pays for us to develop the talent we already have to prepare them for more responsibility in the future.  In Jim Collins Good to Great he sites that 9 of the 11 'great' leaders were from a promote from within culture.  And The Procter & Gamble Company has a century old practice of promote from within and they have remained a Fortune 10 company for as long as I can recall.  Let's equip our emerging leaders with the tools to succeed.  A resource out there that is quickly spreading regarding moving from peer to leader is Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris's From Bud to Boss book and workshops.

Like the Coach Ivan with the kids, work with them at their level, push them gradually, make it fun, and they will focus and deliver.

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