Leading with the Strength of our Zenger Folkman Partnership

This month is the first anniversary of our strategic partnership with Zenger Folkman. Last August I kicked off that inaugural partnership issue with excitement about “a new era beginning” and our first attendance at Zenger Folkman’s 3rd Annual Extraordinary Leadership Summit at Sundance Ranch in Utah.

Discussion of a potential strategic partnership between The CLEMMER Group and Zenger Folkman started about 18 months ago in one of my periodic update discussions with Jack Zenger. Waaaay back in the day…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. Although he doesn’t have a snazzy cape, Jack is one of my leadership development superheroes!

As I’ve gotten to know Joe Folkman and others (like Chris Evans) at Zenger Folkman over the past year, 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.

It’s been a very busy and eventful year working with Zenger Folkman. But most of all it’s been highly rewarding. Besides working with Jack Zenger again, one of the key reasons we’ve partnered with ZF is the leading edge work they’re doing in the emerging field of strengths-based leadership development. 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.

Another big attraction to working with Zenger Folkman is that their approaches use a much more scientific or evidence-based approach. Search Amazon for books with “leadership” in their title and you’ll now find over 92,000 (that’s up 10,000 since last August)! How many other books are about leadership but don’t have that word in the title? Google “leadership books” and you’ll get over 1.2 million hits! There are a slew of theories, opinions, arcane thesis papers, inspirational quotations, training programs, frameworks, and approaches to leadership. We need a research-based approach that cuts through this overwhelming noise to pinpoint what works.

The Extraordinary Coach development system has proven to be a powerful addition to Zenger Folkman’s leadership development approaches. Well before our partnership, 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. 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. Having now facilitated this powerful process I’ve been highly impressed by how quickly and effectively The Extraordinary Coach approach shifts thinking and provides powerful tools.

Last week we attended ZF’s 4th Annual Extraordinary Leadership Summit in Park City — one of Utah’s top tourist destinations favored by entertainment stars during Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival. If the past year wasn’t enough, attending this Summit really underscored just how right the decision has been to form our partnership.

Tomorrow we publish my July blogs in the August issue of The Leader Letter. It’s filled with further research, steps, and approaches to strengths-based leadership development. In my coming blogs I’ll bring you the very latest we learned at the Summit.

In 2007 Jack, Joe, and Bob decided to grow from the three-person consultant practice they built since beginning in 2002. Within a few years 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!