Growing Leaders and Creating High Performing Workplace Cultures
Photo by Catie Viox
Photo below by Tracy Doyle
There is just something not right with my team. For whatever reason, we are not performing.
Diane Egbers says in her over two decades in HR and executive coaching, she found it’s the stuff that keeps business leaders up at night.
Early in her career as a VP of HR for a large company, Egbers recalls people were often at her office early in the morning or at the end of the day with the same questions: “How do I develop as a leader? How do I get my team to perform at a high level?”
To answer those questions, Egbers founded Leadership Excelleration, Inc. (LEI) nearly 20 years ago, offering leadership coaching, organizational development and leadership development services.
“When clients approach us, there is usually something inhibiting high performance,” Egbers says. “Sometimes it’s the relationship between team members. Other times it’s the lack of rigor and support they need to get results.”
Egbers, with a master’s degree in executive human resources development from Xavier University, focuses her firm on three distinct areas: comprehensive services in coaching executives, developing leadership teams and creating high performance cultures. Her team implements a number of strategies on behalf of clients ranging from team sessions to one-on-one executive coaching.
LEI clients include Fidelity Investments, Fifth Third Bank, General Electric, Mason City Schools, Lakota Local Schools and Sycamore Community Schools and a number of healthcare organizations including Children’s Hospital, St Elizabeth Healthcare, TriHealth and UC Health.
“We may work with executive teams of large corporations, or leadership teams within divisions. We also work with nonprofits and school systems,” Egbers says. “Our work across the spectrum of multiple industries allows us to bring a fresh perspective and bring best practices from one industry to another.”
At the heart of what LEI does is Egbers’ understanding of just what makes a leader. She is a firm believer that leaders are “grown, not born.” As Egbers puts it: “Some people are born with certain leadership qualities. But everyone has to be intentional to become highly effective. Every day we see people grow into leadership roles. It’s not a closed door.”
And what are those qualities of leadership Egbers and her team help develop? Above all she says leadership is about service to others – to clients, to a team.
“A good leader has the intentional energy to maximize strengths and to positively impact others toward a common goal and purpose. There has to be consistent, disciplined effort, a willingness to learn and grow and a desire to positively impact the development of people or a team toward building enduring relationships to create sustainable results.”
When called upon, LEI interviews stakeholders in a leader’s success, providing a host of customized assessments based on the needs of a situation. “We look at the degree to which there is a common culture with established values. We look at how that team is focused and passionate with a clear line of sight for achievement.”
That process also includes talent assessment and bringing expertise on how to integrate and connect all the pieces. “It’s really important to help leaders to select and develop talent in the right places,” Egbers says.
Many veterans of the executive coaching field sense there has been a shift in attitude toward the profession in the last decade. It was once perceived that if an outside coach was brought in then “someone’s in trouble.”
“There used to be a stigma around executive coaching. But now it is seen as a perk, a benefit,” says Brent Carter, LEI senior partner and executive coach. “Now you hear, ‘So-and-so has a coach. I’d like one too!’ Leaders now realize they can’t always do it on their own. They have to engage trusted, objective, unbiased advisors who can help them reveal blind spots and create broader perspectives.”
Carter, who specializes in fostering high performing cultures, looks for specific qualities to see if a team is clicking. “Is the team open and vulnerable with each other? Are they relying on each other? Do they function in silos or is there an interdependence? Are they getting results collectively, or are there one or two team members carrying the load? Trust is a key aspect of a high performing team.”
Carter also has been involved in one of the biggest trends in office place culture: inclusion training. But he cautions clients to not settle for holding feel-good awareness seminars.
“We try to take inclusion and diversity beyond awareness into knowledge. There needs to be a curiosity about people around you who are different than you. You need to learn more about them. Implementing strategies and actions are the capstone of the inclusion process.”
Egbers takes seriously the role of a leader who is dedicated to service. She installs that ethic in in her own staff. “Everything we do is in service to our clients, that they develop more successful, high-performing organizations.”
The notion of service is a personal one for Egbers. She took on a leadership role in the prevention of teen suicide, founding nonprofit Grant Us Hope following the suicide death in 2015 of her son, Grant, who had struggled with mental health issues. The nonprofit helps intervene, educate and connect troubled teens through a peer-to-peer program called Hope Squad to help teens get professional help (grantushope.org).
Egbers is also a strong believer that her firm enter a long-term relationship with a client, not promising quick-fix solutions or just snappy seminars.
“We don’t do a packaged solution. Our strategies are customized. We build long-term strategic relationships over time. We rarely lose a client and it’s because they know, once we engage with them, our support is ongoing with their very best interests in mind.”
Leadership Excelleration, Inc. is located at 5905 East Galbraith Road, Suite 1600, Cincinnati, OH. 45236. For more information, call 513.677.0995 or visit www.lei-consulting.com.