Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why we started ECI Learning Systems LLC

If you are reading this post, I hope that you have read the previous 6 posts that provide my personal history and career background. If not, here is the very, very short version of those posts:

I was very successful, receiving regular promotions throughout my career, because I was able to get things done. I tackled challenges that others could or would not, and found ways to make things happen. Later in my career I discovered that I had been inadvertently sabotaging my own career due to my personal blind spots. Blind spots are those things that others see in us that we cannot see in ourselves.

We all have blind spots that we are not aware of.....and my blind spots had been killing me.

I also discovered how attention to blind spots through mentoring and personal development can go a long way toward creating a more successful and fulfilling career. And how to geometrically improve my own performance by developing the people around me.

Which leads us to ECI Learning Systems LLC.

Let me start by saying that ECI Learning Systems is not my company….. it is OUR company. I work with a partner (Laurie Valaer) who shares my passion for personal development and understands the value of creating strong teams. While I approach this concept from a leadership perspective, Laurie’s view is from that of a follower. She clearly understands what motivated her and made her work harder, and what demotivated her and reduced her production. We founded ECI Learning Systems to help create the kind of workplace where people WANT to come to work and STRIVE to do their very best.....EVERY day.

And when people do that, companies don’t just survive….they THRIVE!

During my years at MCI I began the process of personal development. It was slow at first because I thought I knew it all. As my mentors invested more time in me I began to see the difference it could make in my performance, my team’s performance and the performance of the company. And a funny thing happened….. as my team’s performance improved, so did the way I was viewed by others. Oh, I still had my blind spots, but there was no question that the quality of the people around me was making me a better manager and a better leader.

At some point during this process I began to realize the folly of my earlier years and wished that I had only known what I clearly didn’t know. I wished that someone had taken me under their wing earlier and provided me with the tools I needed to be more successful. And much like the Tom Cruise character Jerry Maguire I sat down to write my personal mission statement. (Incidentally, this will likely be the only time in my life that Tom Cruise and I are mentioned in the same sentence.)

As I wrote my personal mission statement I was struck by my strong desire to help others succeed in ways that I had not. And while I still had my personal desires to “get things done” it was quickly being displaced by the great pleasure I received from watching those around me succeed. I began identifying key people below me that I thought had the talents to be excellent leaders and began to personally mentor them. I looked for ways to help my people learn lessons from the tasks that they were doing, and tried to find ways to help them identify their own blind spots.

Over time, this desire to build the people around me overcame my own personal desire to succeed and “get things done”. That desire led me to a number of training and certification programs that allowed me to do formally what I had been doing informally for a number of years: coach the best to develop strong leaders and build strong teams.

For Laurie and me, it comes back to the following key concepts:

1. You can create a great organization if you understand yourself and others.
2. Great leaders understand that it is not about them, it’s about their team.
3. Hiring and developing the best people leads to both personal and organizational success.
4. People that place themselves above the organization sap the energy out of organizations.
5. A company culture that focuses on its people energizes everyone in the organization.
6. Organizations that stress the importance of personal and team development tend to attract and retain the best talent.
7. Everyone needs someone to talk to. Someone who won’t judge them, but will help them identify and remove their blind spots.
8. No training program by itself can change a person’s behavior. People need to be trained ( Educate ); that training needs to carry across the organization (Communicate); and the training needs to be reinforced with practical and hands on coaching (Integrate).

Educate; Communicate; Integrate

That’s what ECI stands for, and it’s what Laurie and I believe in. More importantly, we believe that until we realize that “we don’t know what we don’t know” we can never begin to maximize our own, or our team's, potential.

With all of that said, I hope that you will subscribe to our blog, read our thoughts on how to become the type of leader you need to be, and begin looking for ways to identify your own blind spots.

And remember, when you are serious about getting the most out of your talent and your career, it’s time to contact ECI Learning Systems. We’ve been there ourselves and we know what it takes to create an energized workplace.

Till next time....

Dave Meyer

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