Building Strengths with Zenger FolkmanIt’s been three years since Jack Zenger and I had one of our periodic update conversations after we headed off in different directions over 20 years ago. Our previous companies, The Achieve Group and Zenger Miller, had worked together for more than a decade. When this conversation took place with Jack, my wife, Heather, and I were just back from a one month dream cruise of Hawaii and the South Pacific to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary.

In addition to warm reflections on our decades together since our Hawaiian honeymoon as newlyweds barely out of our teens, Heather and I were also contemplating our next life/career/business moves. For the first few weeks of the cruise, the idea of semi-retirement or slowing down and doing more cruising was appealing. We thoroughly enjoy cruising and loved this extended one. But by the fourth week it became clear that I am still too young (we were the youngsters on the ship), have too much energy, love for my life’s work, and interest in exploring new pathways.

With more than 20 years of intense interest in the work of Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, I was especially captivated with the extensive new research he and his colleagues were pioneering in the emerging field of positive psychology. At the point when Jack and I talked, I was seriously contemplating an application to the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

While I’d been following Jack’s work and reviewed three of the books he co-authored at Zenger Folkman, I didn’t appreciate just how far he and Joe Folkman had advanced practical tools for strengths-based leadership and coaching skills development. As I got deeper into their approaches I became quite excited by the powerful and practical tools they’d developed using a scientific/evidence-based approach.

The CLEMMER Group began working with our Clients in using The Extraordinary Leader and The Extraordinary Coach in the fall and winter of 2012/13. It’s been a deeply rewarding and frustrating few years. Helping leaders build their strengths and coaching skills has been extremely rewarding. Getting senior executives, Organization/Learning Development and Human Resource professionals to appreciate and embrace the power of these ground breaking new approaches has been more difficult than I’d expected. Old paradigms and habits are tough to change.

Tomorrow we publish my March blogs in the April issue of The Leader Letter. By happy coincidence it’s the perfect issue to reflect back over the past three years since Jack and I first spoke about renewing our partnership. This issue features two powerful new white papers on using strengths-based competency models and creating a coaching culture — along with how to check your coaching skills. It also features new positive psychology research showing a major strengths revolution is finally taking hold in our workplaces.

May you also be re-fired with building life, leadership, and coaching strengths!