Posts Tagged ‘Leaders’

Congratulations to our Spring 2012-2013 leadership program graduates!  They are:

  • www.ellisonpartners.comCarmen Sirizzotti, Director of Strategic Staffing and Compensation at University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Cathy Spicka, Vice President of Accounting at DEI Communities
  • Crystal Thompson, Production Planning Manager Epsen Hillmer Graphics
  • Kari Heunink, Compliance/SBA Officer, Washington County Bank
  • Mike Arkfeld, Vice President of Operations at Titan Medical Group

We are proud of your leadership, your hard work and most of all we are proud of the business results you have achieved.  Read More!

Contact us today for a no-obligation, no pressure conversation about your leadership development needs and whether our program is right for you.  402.884.7300.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, master-certified executive coach, and founder of Ellison Partners.  Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps individuals and business leaders achieve results.

2013 ©Nikki Ellison

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You might not be familiar with Capt. Edward A. Murphy but I would bet you know his moniker: Murphy’s Laws.    Murphy’s Law (“If anything can go wrong, it will.”) was born at Edwards Airforce base in 1949.  Capt. Murphy, an engineer, was actually credited with an old saying that had been around for years.  It was a term he used in describing one of his men who had wired a transducer wrong.   A project manager had been keeping a list of things Capt. Murphy said.  Today we know that list as Murphy’s Laws.

I think people, for the most part, work hard to do a good job in part because getting noticed for good work gets us promoted often to a management position.     It’s in that moment we are excited, happy and full of desire to do a good job once again.  After all, we now have a bigger job, more pay, more responsibility. Wait. What? More Responsibility? What does that mean?  Have you ever found yourself promoted to management and after the excitement wanes you wonder ‘now what’?  You surely don’t want you manager to be like Capt. Murphy, overlooking your work, and lament “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Here are 10 things you can do today to ensure your name isn’t linked with Murphy’s Laws:

1.  Accept that you still have much to learn.  It’s ok not to feel fully confident in your new leadership role.  You’ll have time to continue learning if you do just that.  Be prepared to learn from others – including your own team.

2. Communicate clearly.  Of all the issues that keep my company in business it’s ‘lack of communication’ that I hear the most.   Harboring information is a surefire way to trouble.  Open lines of communication with your team; share goals, priorities, and deadlines; provide clear direction; welcome questions and ask for feedback from others.  Effective communication will be essential in establishing your credibility as a leader and gaining the support of your team.

3.  Set a good example.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking now that you are management it’s your teams job to rise above while you sit with your feet on your desk.  Demand the same level of professionalism and dedication from yourself that you do from your team.  Be upbeat, friendly and willing to do as you say.

4.  Encourage feedback.  When I’ve share this tip I often hear “What if I am not prepared to do whatever they suggest?”.  The tip is Encourage Feedback  not Do Everything Suggested.  Employees don’t always share what’s on their mind.  Prompt them for feedback, canvass for opinions, listen to concerns and ask for ideas.  Maintaining an open door policy requires more than physically leaving your office door open a crack.  You must solicit input, help your employee feel heard, sort through what you hear and use the feedback that can improve things for your company and it’s customers.

5. Offer recognition.  Praise doesn’t have to be formal.  A well-placed Thank You goes a long way in encouraging future contributions and effort.  Make recognition part of your day-to-day communication with your team.  Recognizing them in front of their peer and others builds up your teams confidence.

6. Be decisive.  A quality leader knows how to sift and sort through information to arrive at a decision point.  Sometimes this is done quickly; other times a quality leader might delay a decision. At whatever point you have enough information to make a solid decision, do so and stick with it.  This doesn’t mean don’t alter your path if a decision truly needs revising but for the most part made quality decisions then stick with the decisions you make.  Don’t be wishy-washy.  You only have to  look at public opinion on government U-turns to see how easily confidence in a leader can be weakened or lost altogether.

7.  Help your team see the “big picture”.   Do you know where you and your job fits into your company’s larger goals?  Do you know where your team’s jobs fit?  If not, find out then be sure to communicate it.  This helps demonstrate that every task they complete can have an impact on the company’s success, reputation and bottom line.  Everyone needs to know they belong.  Help your team see and feel why they and their jobs are important.

8.  Create an environment of constant learning and development – and include yourself in this process.  Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s once said “If you’re green, you’re growing.  If you’re ripe, you rot.”  Whether or not you are a fan of McDonald’s or not, the point should be well heeded.  Encourage your team to explore new methods for reaching their goals and company goals.  Allow them to make and learn from mistakes; be sure to reward new and innovative ideas.

9.  Provide professional guidance.   A good manager and leader will also be a good mentor.  Make yourself available to your team and show interest in their careers.  Don’t overlook the power of positive reinforcement.  Continue to develop your skills, especially those focused on results. A focus on execution and achieving actual business results will put you far ahead of those quoting strategy and theory any day.  Require, for any training you consider for yourself or your team, that the trainer show proof their program works.  Don’t settle for creative marketing.  Insist your training dollars are spent on that which can prove the connection to helping you achieve measurable business results.

10.  Be patient with yourself.  As it goes ‘Rome wasn’t built-in a day’.  Recognize strong managerial and leadership skills take time – especially as you adjust to your new position.  Don’t expect to effectively learn significant leadership skills in a week-long seminar. Seek guidance to learn as you go, giving yourself time to try out new skills, and adapt what you learn to your own style of leadership.  Seek guidance formally through coaching and informally through peers.  In doing so you will enhance your leadership abilities and make strides toward becoming a great manager and respected leader.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments Ellison Partners helps businesses achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2012.

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Leadership, Life Balance and Leveraging LIttle DecisionsBack when disco music pulsed the airwaves and polyester prevailed, I became a serious student of human behavior, leadership, and workplace relationships. The survival of my fledgling enterprise depended on it. My virtual mentors at first were books and then expanded to become my “rolling university” instructors in my humble mini van with a cassette deck. I spent at least 10 hours a week behind the wheel listening intently to audio programs on motivation, persistence, and business during my 120 mile daily commute.

I had become an entrepreneur in response to what I perceived as the apparent lack of opportunity available to a person like me in a rural setting. After a humbling self assessment I believed that my skills were sewing, drawing and talking to complete strangers, so I did what anyone would do, I started stitching up some bibs and pillows and signed up for a craft show, right? Surprisingly, from this I created what turned out to be a very successful business for over 25 years. What, you might ask, does this have to do with anything?

Here is what I learned during those years of discovery. In truth, opportunity is all around us. Our genetics largely determine our abilities and our tendencies, be they ever so humble, but our decisions determine what we will do with them. We quite literally become what we believe. Every person’s birthright contains their own unique set of gifts but I maintain that we all can leverage them to a higher level, can become a better leader, and can become more charismatic through a structured application of choices. This can be learned.

Much has been written on choosing a path for a well-rounded and successful life. The subject matter runs the gamut from making the right choices, putting them in action, and seeing the benefits that will be achieved. Regardless of the author or the century, the wisdom is as old as man and the basics have remained unchanged.

I don’t know who said it first, but “it’s easy to do and it’s easy not to do.” One day of eating nothing but Twinkies will not make you fat and one day of lettuce alone and a mile on a treadmill will not get you trim and toned. It’s cumulative. It’s discipline. It is simple but it is not always easy.

I am excited to begin facilitating a program which will save years of study, frustration and trial and error in your journey to become the leader you aspire to be.  The program is called LEAP (Leadership Acceleration Program) and has been shown to be hands-down the most actionable and measurable  method of learning what it takes to become what we call a Prodigious Leader. Through years of exhaustive research, the Leadership paradigm has been broken down to very basic building blocks which can be learned.

LEAP participants are trained in methods to improve their skills through our tested education process which uses unique strategies and new tools to create correct behaviors.  This knowledge is then applied over the course of the curriculum.  Along the way, the changes are carefully observed along with the effects of what is happening because of the new skills.  The results speak for themselves. At the conclusion of the twelve month course, participants average 45% growth in their leadership confidence and competence.

Classes are forming in Omaha, Lincoln, and Kearney. If you would like to learn more, visit our website at http://www.ellisonpartners.com or call our office at 402.884.7300. Seating is limited so don’t delay, your spot is confirmed on receipt of your application and tuition payment.

Are you ready to LEAP?

Betty Streff is a Human Capital Expert and Leadership Coach with Ellison Partners.  She facilitates the LEAP™ leadership acceleration program and helps ensure leaders have the employee data necessary to effectively and profitably manage their workforce.

©Ellison Partners 2013.

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My husband is a serious and thoughtful student of history.  I am obsessively consumed with what make people tick and what sets us apart from each other.

The presidential race has certainly spawned some spirited discussions between us about how people with such profound differences rise to compete for the highest office in the country.

His extensive studies into some of America’s great leaders; Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, and exemplary military generals lead him to believe that we as a nation have become soft because of our affluence and we have not been tempered by hardships.  Because of that, we have not developed the grit and determination that is acquired from overcoming them.

My slant is with regard to relationships and communication, constancy of purpose, discipline, and integrity.  I, too, have studied a wide range of exemplary leaders like Gandhi, Mandela, Churchill, and Thatcher, and what I see in them is their uncanny ability to lead by example, to stir up emotions and support through their articulation and people skills.

I think we are both right and I believe we are a society that is starved for leaders of unquestionable character.  Leadership is in short supply today in families, communities, and businesses, and is needed at every level of human endeavor, not just in the political arena.  Leadership at the bedrock level of our society is what will build the solid foundation needed for us to remain the greatest nation in the world.

I recently made a life-changing discovery!  Leadership has a specific set of skills, behaviors, and competencies that can be quantified and cataloged.  Because of this, it can be taught and measured.  Finally, a proven science in this area, a structured program that can be undertaken in the same way we create a training program for athletic competition!  I think this is exciting and life-changing news because it means we can all see measurable results in our ability to lead.

The new program I refer to is LEAP, or Leadership Acceleration Program, created through years of research and brought to you as a curriculum that will help you become the prodigious leader you are born to be.  Classes are starting in Kearney, Lincoln, and Omaha soon, and if you are serious about your personal growth, please contact us today about this proven opportunity for your strong future.

Betty Streff is a Human Capital Expert and Leadership Coach with Ellison Partners.  She facilitates the LEAP™ leadership acceleration program and helps ensure leaders have the employee data necessary to effectively and profitably manage their workforce.

©Ellison Partners 2012.

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LEAP Graduate Lynn Owen

Leadership Graduate, Lynn Owen, receives an award for Highest Gain in Leadership Competence from Ellison Partners Founder, Nikki Ellison.


Ellison Partners is thrilled to announce the graduates of the Leadership Acceleration Program.  Omaha has an impressive group of graduates and I could not be more proud of them!

Considering this group came to the program as successful leaders in their own right, we are happy to report each and every one of them still grew as business leaders racking up some impressive growth metrics and accomplishing some great business results.

The professional and personal growth achieved is nothing short of impressive:

  • Leadership Confidence measures grew between 13 and 38%
  • Leadership Competency measures 5% and 19%
  • Overall, 96% of Leadership Behaviors improved (67 out of 70)

What is most impressive, however, is the ACTUAL BUSINESS RESULTS ACHIEVED by the Cohort.  Here is just a sampling of what the bosses had to say about their Graduate’s growth and the business results achieved:

“She has become more committed to her career and her professional growth.”  She has grown in “her ability to make a decision and stick with it and make things happen; to find the right people to work with and delegating responsibility.  She (has become) excellent at recognizing talent and bringing together a good team.” 

*   “There have been many positive changes begin to happen over the past year. In the area of communication there have been large improvements, assessing situations before responding, communicating on the facts without an emotional effect, being more proactive and less reactive.  The organization of her duties and managing the process of her department is also improving.  She has made improvements in training, coaching, and managing her staff.”

*  “The largest improvement is evident with the process management of her team.  She has always been very active in helping her team with their tasks, but she has really begun the transition to ensuring that the members of her team have the tools and direction to be more self-sufficient, therefore reducing the amount of their work she is doing, and allowing her to continue to manage the process with the level of detail needed.”

“(She) has taken the lead in planning our Annual Manager’s Meeting.  She has excellent ideas.  Our annual meeting keeps getting better and better.  Much of our success can be attributed to her ideas and organizational skills.  I couldn’t be happier w/ the outcome of this event.”

Graduating Members of the Omaha Fall 2011 Cohort:

*  Ami Regalado, Vice President of Human Resources – Washington County Bank in Blair

*  Angela Lee, President of Strictly Business  Magazine – Omaha; Creator and Founder of Sholdit

*  Heidi Leapley, Customer Service Manager – Titan Medical Group in Omaha

*  Lynn Owen, Customer Service Manager – Brumbaugh & Quandahl, LLC PC

*  Sarah Schulz, Chapter Manager – Human Resource Association of the Midlands (HRAM) in Omaha

*  Suzanne Robinson, Vice President of Human Resources – DEI Communities in Omaha

Graduating Leadership members were presented with a bound copy of their ROI Executive Brief™. The ROI Executive Brief provides graduates with a snapshot of their successes which included their growth metrics detailing measured growth in 8 leadership competencies, 18 skill sets and 70 behaviors along with their leadership confidence growth data; a summary of their business results gained by applying their new leadership habits; an executive narrative of their leadershipi journey; a comprehensive listing of the leadership tool kits, tips and lessons learned and available for ongoing use; comments from their boss’s on the significance of their leadership skill improvement and a summary of their leadership year curriculum and leadership hours earned. Graduates also were presented a Certificate of Leadership and a gift from their Certified Executive Coach.

Congratulations to the Graduating Omaha Fall 2011 Cohort!

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments Ellison Partners helps businesses achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2012.

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Do you remember the childhood game of chicken?  Ron Ashkenas, Harvard Business Review Blogger, points to an interesting connection between poor leadership skills and the childhood phenomenon in his recent post “Why Leaders Play Chicken.”

Noted is the common characteristics including a “…critical issue that must be resolved by a certain time limit; the principle players have strongly held but very different views about what needs to be done; and neither side wants to compromise.”

The result? “…instead of innovative solutions we end up with negotiated  bargains…and when a compromise is finally struck both sides usually feel their leader was too weak and should not have given up so much.”

Thinking of those times our firm has been called upon to address ineffective teams it seems most often there was a game of chicken going on, among other things. There is no fault or blame being placed rather a level of respect for the firm for addressing the situation. What happens when a firm doesn’t address it and allows it to continue?

Are your leaders playing chicken? Conflict resolved with this sort of power play rarely ends well for anyone involved, let alone the company reputation.  Leaders who engage in the chicken game risk:

  • a limited view and limited range of options
  • difficult communications
  •  a lack of collaboration
  • settling for less
  • delaying the inevitable collision
  • polarized teams and increased opposition
  • losing respect as a leader

Here are 3 things you can do to ensure your leaders are fostering innovative approaches and excellence in execution.

1.  Know what valued customer outcomes your firm fulfills. Profitability starts and ends with loyal customers.  The experience your customers value as part of doing business with your firm is the outcome they seek for you to fulfill.  Can you define your company’s valued customer outcome?  How can you truly satisfy your customers without knowing what it is that your customers truly want to experience by doing business with you? Think about this yourself for a minute.  Do you value the seat you sit on in the airplane you ride in?  Or do you value the experience of a comfortable, safe flight? Know what your customers value; what outcome they expect when doing business with you. The end game is customer loyalty and the profitability that comes with it.  Keep your leaders focused on your customers,  not the chicken game.

2.  Don’t overlook the link between employees and customer loyalty and profit. Technology is easily replicable; processes can be mirrored.  However, a highly skilled and committed workforce is difficult to imitate.  It’s people who design the processes.  It’s people who work with, and leverage, technology.  It’s people who make or break the delivery of your valued customer outcomes.  When leaders begin to think of employees as commodities employees will do the same with customers, whether they serve them directly or indirectly.

Consider this: We know customer loyalty is a leading indicator that predicts the ‘staying power’ of your customers.  Statistics prove 91% of unhappy customers will never buy from you again. We know the surest route to profit comes from customer loyalty; that customers will remain loyal only as long as they remain satisfied.  Research shows company’s build customer satisfaction by consistently delivering valuable services to its customers and that exceptional value is created by innovative, loyal and productive (engaged) employees. Good to Great by Jim Collins tells us to ensure you have the right people, in the right seat, on the right bus.  Folks like that don’t waste time playing chicken.

3.  Invest in your leaders.   Let’s look at this from a different angle.  What’s the single most important challenge to leaders in this economy?  It’s getting positive results.   Here’s a critical reality:  The magnitude of your teams contribution to your success will be directly proportional to how engaged they are with the organization and their jobs.  Towers Perrin surveyed nearly 90,000 employees in 18 countries and found companies with high employee engagement had a 19% increase in operating income.  Conversely, companies with low levels of engagement saw operating income drop more than 32%.  What drives employee engagement?  Job fit (see point #2) and leadership. We’ve all heard it before.  Employees don’t leave companies they leave bosses.  I suppose that is fine if it’s an unengaged, unproductive, profitable employee.  But what about the others who are engaged, who are satisfying your customers?  Fail to invest in your leader and you fail to invest in those who directly foster your customers loyalty and your profitability. If you needed financial justification for investing in your leaders the proof is in the research and it doesn’t involve playing chicken.

How do you avoid playing chicken?   I‘m interested in your thoughts.  Click on “Leave a Comment” below. 

Source:  Building Profit Through Building People Making Your Workforce the Strongest Link in the Value-Profit Chain by Ken Carrig and Patrick M. Wright.

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