Zenger Folkman Strategic PartnerWe’ve just finalized a Strategic Partnership with Zenger Folkman (www.zengerfolkman.com). After so many years of successful partnering with Jack Zenger at his previous company (he headed up Zenger Miller when I was a partner in The Achieve Group), I am quite excited to be working with him and his colleagues again. Their foundation program is a strengths-based leadership development system based on their bestselling The Extraordinary Leader book.

Zenger Folkman has a new book coming out in August that reports on their incredible success with strengths-based leadership, further advances its approaches, and provides lots of practical leadership tips and techniques. It’s entitled, How to Be Exceptional.

Since founding The CLEMMER Group in 1994, this is the first time we’ve ever formed a strategic partnership like this. It’s a big step in our company’s growth and development. There are many reasons we decided to partner with Zenger Folkman. Here are the top five:

1.      Jack Zenger — I was co-founder of The Achieve Group and began working with Jack in partnership with Zenger Miller in 1981. He became a role model, inspiration, and mentor. He’s one of my leadership development heroes! Two years after Zenger Miller purchased Achieve in 1991, Jack and I wrote the first draft of a book on “strategic organization change.” With Zenger Miller/Achieve going through rapid changes that took Jack and I in different directions it was never finished.

As I’ve gotten to know Joe Folkman and others at Zenger Folkman over the past few months, I’ve been very impressed by the high quality and high values team he, Jack, and Bob Sherwin (he was CFO at Zenger Miller) have put together. Click here to meet the key Zenger Folkman leaders.

2.      Strengths-Based Leadership DevelopmentZenger Folkman is on the leading edge of this exciting and pivotal movement. I’ve long been a follower and written quite a bit about the burgeoning new field of Positive Psychology in my blogs and latest book, Growing @ the Speed of Change. A strengths-based approach is rooted in optimism and builds a positive can-do culture.

Zenger Folkman has a solid database of research proving that working on strengths is twice as effective as working on weaknesses (unless there’s a Fatal Flaw that needs immediate attention). You can read more about this in Developing Strengths or Weaknesses: Overcoming the Lure of the Wrong Choice in the Articles/White Papers section of the Zenger Folkman Resource Center.

3.      Research/Evidence-Based Leadership Development — search Amazon for books with “leadership” in their title and you’ll now find over 81,000! How many other books are about leadership but don’t have that word in the title? Google “leadership books” and you’ll get over 1.1 million hits! There are a slew of theories, opinions, arcane thesis papers, inspirational quotations, training programs, frameworks, and approaches to leadership.

What’s been sorely lacking is an integrated model that combines both “hard” management and “soft” leadership built on a base of solid research. Zenger Folkman’s “tent model” and competencies built from their massive database on what sharply separates top and bottom-performing leaders provides that. Read Leadership Under the Microscope in the Articles/White Papers section of the  Zenger Folkman Resource Center for an introductory overview.

4.      Coaching and Inspiring Skills/Philosophies – two years ago I read and reviewed Jack Zenger’s book, The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow. In over three decades of work in this field I’ve read a lot of material — and written quite a bit — on coaching, growing, and developing others. As Peter Drucker so strenuously argued for over 60 years, developing people is the essence of leadership. I absolutely loved The Extraordinary Coach. It’s a unique combination of solid research, relevant and illustrative examples, with lots of practical how-to applications. Nothing else comes close.

This spring I read and reviewed The Inspiring Leader: Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate. It’s another gem. The book uniquely and powerfully pulls together Zenger Folkman’s research on what the most inspiring leaders actually do, insightful examples, short, pithy, bite-sized sections in simple and very readable language, and how-to, practical steps to move you from inspiration to application.

5.       A Powerful Fit with Our Culture/Leadership Development — Zenger Folkman’s programs and services perfectly extends and expands the work we’re doing with our Clients. Their philosophies, research, and methods synchronize and reinforce the frameworks and approaches we’ve evolved over the past 18 years.

Zenger Folkman has a treasure trove of research, white papers, books, articles, videos, and webcasts. My future blogs will bring much of this material to you.

In 2007 Jack, Joe, and Bob decided to grow from the small consultant practice they built over the past five years. In 2010 and 2011 they joined the ranks of the Top 20 Leadership Training Companies. And they’ve only just begun. We’re now delighted to be “on the grow” together!