Podcast Episode #1
An intimate conversation with Andre Thornton, CEO & Founder of Whitman Consulting, about High Performance.
Podcast Episode #1
An intimate conversation with Andre Thornton, CEO & Founder of Whitman Consulting, about High Performance.
In 1994 I was a freshman in college with a focus on football. I wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school, so in order to play at the NCAA Division I level, I had to walk-on and prove myself. I was one hundred and eighty miles, three hours, and one state away from home. I didn’t know anyone and the questions I wrestled with were: Who am I now? What skills learned in high school transfer here to college? Will I find my new team? and Will I fit in? I made the scout team defense my freshman year, started on special teams my sophomore year, earned a scholarship at the end of my sophomore season, and started at my position as a linebacker as a senior. I was a student-athlete. And playing football with my teammates provided me with inspiration and purpose.
In 1999 I was a soldier in the Army with a focus on becoming an Army surgeon. I was eating breakfast with some medic’s on my team in the 82nd Airborne Division cafeteria at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on 11 September 2001 when the news broke that terrorists attacked America. There was a flurry of activity and emotion on post and again I wrestled with the questions: Who am I now? What skills have I learned that will transfer and enable me to fight and destroy this enemy? Will I find my new team? and Will I fit in? I left the medical field and I became a Special Forces Green Beret and I went on to lead a small and highly-trained team of warriors who fought against violent extremists and terrorists in the Middle East and South America. I was a soldier in the Army. And fighting the enemy with my teammates provided me with purpose and fulfillment.
In 2016 I retired from the Army and again I thought: Who am I now? What skills have I learned that transfer? Will I find my new team? and Will I fit into the workplace? That same year I met and was hired by Zach Maurides. Zach is a former Duke football player and the Founder and CEO at Teamworks in Durham, North Carolina. Zach hired me to sell collaboration software to college sport teams across the country and seven months later, he remissioned me to be an internal Leadership Coach for Teamworks. Three years later, I founded a Coaching and Consulting company with the mission to help others unlock their hidden potential and develop their competency so they, and the teams they are a part of, perform at incredibly high levels. I have intimate conversations with people everyday and together we develop actionable strategies so that they can find fulfillment in their life. This work brings me incredible joy.
So, this is a brief snapshot of how the last 25 years of my life have transitioned from athlete, to soldier, to civilian workforce, to CEO and Managing Director of my own Coaching practice. Today, I am incredibly fulfilled in my professional work as a coach and I specialize in coaching high performing veterans and athletes in transition. I wrote this article to share what I’ve learned in my transition moments, and in my coaching practice, because my perspective may help inform other athletes and veterans in transition out of competitive sport, or out of the military, and into their first civilian job.
I’ve come to recognize that I, and many athletes and veterans, want answers to these critical questions while in transition:
Transition from one vocation to another is challenging. If either of these questions cloud the vision that you hold for yourself during your transition, consider using the ISCBBI (spoken as “I SEE BY”(™)) framework and discover clarity in your transition moments.
The ISCBBI “I SEE BY”(™) Framework for high-performance in transition is:
“I” – Identity.
“S” – Strengths.
“C” – Core Competencies.
“B” – Behavior.
“B” – Belief.
“I” – Influence.
I encourage you to embrace each of your transition moments and consider the “I SEE BY”(™) framework, in part or holistically, to rediscover clarity and enable your high performance in transition. Reflecting on your Identity, Strengths, Core Competencies, Behavior, Belief, and Influence may be exactly what you need to discover your next calling when your playing days are over or when your time in uniformed service ends. Have confidence…there is fulfilling work for your life after competitive sport and military service.
Article written by Court Whitman, a NCAA DI Football Player, a US Army Retired Special Forces Green Beret, an International Coach Federation Associate Certified Coach, and graduate of George Mason University Center for the Advancement of Well-being as a certified Leadership Coach. As a coach and consultant, Court’s partnered with hundreds of people and teams to examine identity, strengths, core competencies, behavior, belief, and influence. He specializes in coaching high performing veterans in transition out of the military and athletes in transition out of competitive sport and into their next fulfilling career. For more on Court Whitman, visit www.courtwhitman.com.
What’s preventing your success in the results you want to achieve as you chase high performance?
The response varies. Sometimes there is a job-specific competency gap that limits success. Sometimes there’s an inability to stay disciplined and keep commitments that disrupts progress. And sometimes there’s a challenging interpersonal relationship that prevents desired results. And everywhere in between.
Behavior, sometimes referred to Emotional Intelligence, has the ability to prevent or unlock high performance. I’ve experienced this in my own life, so much so that I hold Emotional Intelligence as a differentiator between high performing and underperforming managers.
First I must define a few words I use in this article as we explore my perspective on high performing management. We don’t need to be aligned on these definitions, but defining these words upfront will enable clarity because I experience regular confusion around how these words are defined.
High Performance. High Performance is success in desired results above established norms over the long term.
Leadership. Leadership is influence.
Management. Management is the process of dealing, directing, or controlling things or people in order to accomplish tasks, objectives, or a mission.
Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is a “set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.” (Definition from The EQ Edge – Emotional Intelligence and your Success, written by Howard E. Book and Steven J. Stein)
As an OKA certified issuer and debriefer of the Emotional Quotient Inventory EQ-i 2.0®, OKA identifies fifteen specific elements used to characterize Emotional Intelligence according to the EQ-i 2.0® model. The fifteen elements are:
Emotional Self Awareness.
Of these fifteen elements, I’ve highlighted the three elements Emotional Expression, Empathy, and Impulse Control as critically important for managers in order to (1) differentiate themselves from other managers, (2) to exercise effective leadership, and (3) to perform at incredibly high levels in the workplace.
Emotional Expression, or the degree to which you share, communicate and remain transparent with your feelings and emotions, is an important component to building trust. And when a manager is trusted, there is an increased ability to deal with difficult conversations and direct others in order to accomplish tasks, objectives, or a mission.
Sometimes managers are uncomfortable with the sharing, disclosure, and openness that enables emotional expression. And when this happens, managers should reflect upon whether or not their predisposition to privacy is being helpful or hurtful to their ability to build trust among their team. A struggle to grow in competence with Emotional Expression is typically in the manager’s reluctance to pivot their behavior. But when a change in behavior is made, the possibility to unlock hidden potential may occur which may enable the achievement of a different result – increased trust. One way to step firmly into Emotional Expression is to simply ask your direct reports, in a one-on-one conversation, whether or not they would appreciate an increase in the sharing, communication and transparency with feelings and emotions at work.
If your attachment to Emotional Expression is self assessed as lower than you’d prefer, consider introducing these actions to develop greater Emotional Expression competency.
Of course Emotional Expression can be overdone. So be mindful not to get involved with issues that are not related to you and your team. And consider guarding against oversharing. Again, an effective approach is asking your direct reports what level of Emotional Expression they are most comfortable with at work.
Empathy is the ability and willingness to take notice of, and be sensitive to, other people’s needs and feelings. This reflects care. And care is a critical component to building trust. Sometimes this is as simple as spending time to get to know direct reports, peers, and supervisors. I’ve worked with a number of executives, managers, and teams in order to develop ways to create or maintain incredible organizational culture. And one of the first exercises I conduct includes asking if they know the first names of one another’s significant other or children. With this information, the shift in delivery of a simple Monday morning question from “How was your weekend?” to “Jane, how was your weekend with John?” or “Jane, how was Joe’s soccer game last weekend?” can be a powerful demonstration of empathy. If your attachment to Empathy is self assessed as lower than you’d prefer, consider introducing these actions to develop greater competency.
Of course Empathy can be overdone. So be mindful not to get disconnected from objective thought process. Sometimes highly empathetic people become somewhat dishonest or disingenuous because they prefer to hold back the truth for fear of hurting others.
Impulse Control, the ability to resist or delay a drive or temptation to do or say something or to decide too quickly or rashly, is an essential quality of high performing managers. Impulse Control is a critical component to building effective interpersonal relationships with direct reports, peers, supervisors, and external stakeholders. It is also an important element to effective decision making. How often in your career have you worked with others who are skilled in controlling their impulses? Additionally, how defeating and disruptive is it be to be managed by someone who lacks competency with Impulse Control? Consider a deliberate decision to embrace Impulse Control when you observe a poor decision made by one of your direct reports. A natural tendency may be to lash out with an on-the-spot correction. But, most people do not respond well to direct criticism. Instead, consider a pivot toward Impulse Control and schedule the time to mentor your direct report. With too little Impulse Control, managers may be viewed as explosive, overly talkative, angry, and likely to monopolize meetings and conversations. If your attachment to Impulse Control is self assessed as lower than you’d prefer, consider introducing these actions to develop greater competency.
Of course Impulse Control can be overdone. So be mindful if you’re receive feedback from others that you need to be more assertive or that your team needs to see more emotional expression from you in the workplace. These are indicators that you’re too controlled in your responses.
If you’re chasing high performance at work. Consider what may be preventing the success in the desired results that you hold for yourself? When was the last time you took a moment to examine your behavior and the impact your behavior has upon others in the workplace. Could your Emotional Intelligence be the gap that you need to bridge to move from an underperforming to a high performing manager? Competency in the ability to use emotional and social skills to influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way may just be the differentiator in your pursuit of high performance.
Life is a constant state of transition. But transition from one vocation to another can be challenging. This is especially true for many veterans who are in transition out of military service and into that first civilian career. In many cases, the service-member’s vision for their military service was incredibly clear because the military does a good job executing job-specific initial training, professional military education & development, and Human Resource Command establishes milestones and criteria for promotion. The organizational culture of the military is also unique and typical of numerous episodes of deliberate discomfort (training, combat operations, loss) followed by celebration (mission accomplishment). And these deliberate discomfort and celebratory experiences build trust rapidly and enable teams and organizations to become incredibly aligned and committed to the organizational vision & mission and to one another.
At times, the mental picture of professional service post-military can be somewhat clouded and confusing. What skills transfer? Will I find the right fit and company culture again? How do I articulate my value to a civilian employer? How do I perform at the high levels that I am used to in the military? If either of these questions cloud the vision that you hold for yourself during transition, consider the “I SEE BY”(™) (ISCBI) framework and discover clarity in all your transition moments.
The ISCBI “I SEE BY”(™) Framework for high-performance in transition.
“I” – Identity.
“S” – Strengths.
“C” – Core Competencies.
“B” – Behavior.
“I” – Influence.
I encourage you to embrace each of your transition moments and consider the “I SEE BY”(™) framework, in part or holistically, to rediscover clarity and enable your high performance in transition.
Larry Long Jr – Speaker, Trainer, & Director of Collegiate Sales | Teamworks Innovations Inc.
Larry is an experienced sales leader with a demonstrated history of success in SaaS sales. He is extremely passionate about coaching, and helping sales professionals take their game to the ‘next level’. Larry brings a unique perspective to the table and understands many of the challenges faced by sales professionals. His areas of experience include Sales Training, Team Development, Leadership, and Motivation within organizations of all stages (start-up to publicly-traded). Practicing what he preaches, Larry continuously seeks opportunities to learn & grow. For more information on Larry, please explore his LinkedIn here and the Teamworks Company Website here.
Alison Carroll – Executive Coach & Entrepreneur | The Hidden Narrative.
Coach Alison Carroll has been an entrepreneur for almost 25 years, first as founder of Commonwealth Language Services Ltd. and now as owner of her own coaching practice, The Hidden Narrative LLC. She is fascinated by the power of language and narrative to shape our experience, and she brings that focus to her coaching work today.
Prior to coaching, Alison worked as a translator from French, German, Portuguese and Spanish into English for law firms, multilateral organizations like the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank and federal agencies like the FBI and the IRS. She helped organize and worked with teams of linguists for large-scale projects like patent litigations and international terrorism and bank fraud investigations while also serving as a medical interpreter on the side.
Alison became a credentialed coach in 2010. Since 2013, she has been a member of The COMMIT Foundation’s coaching “team of teams,” working with over 50 members of the Special Operations community. Her military client base includes veterans that come through Stand Beside Them, Inc and The Capitol Post/Bunker Labs. She also works with the small business community and with individual clients in personal and professional transitions.
As an ontological coach, Alison’s initial focus is on building a client’s powers of self-observation so he can begin to see and question assumptions and beliefs and identify blind spots. Always attuned to language, she explores any hidden narratives standing in the way of change and supports her client in rewriting them in a clear and future-oriented way. Finally, she works to lay a strong foundation for personal agency and accountability, since insight without action does not build the momentum that is essential to sustain change. A lifelong learner, Alison reads widely in psychology, adult development, spirituality and other topics that support her own development as well as that of her clients.
Alison holds a BA in Romance Languages from Harvard University, an MA in Latin American Studies from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and three certificates in translation from Georgetown University. She is a Newfield Network Certified Coach (NCC) and holds a PCC from the International Coach Federation. She is fluent in five languages and has traveled and lived abroad for extended periods of time. Alison works with the Extended DISC assessment tool. Alison is also a U.S. citizen who has lived in Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia for three decades. She is an avid swimmer and traveler. Married and a mother of four children ranging in age from 17 to 26, she currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.
Adam Weiner – Coach & Speaker with a focus on Character, Leadership and Teamwork.
Adam spent 14 years in leadership roles as a Navy SEAL where he attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Among other assignments, he served as Platoon Commander, Operations Officer, and Executive Officer at different SEAL Teams.
After the Navy, Adam brought his leadership to the automotive industry and finance. At General Motors, he was the Business Manager for the Vice President of Engineering before joining AIG as a Divisional Vice President. Today, he partners with Michigan Retirement Advisors as an Investment Advisor Representative.
In 2017 he spearheaded Hatmada LLC to teach character, leadership, and team-building as a coach and speaker. He keynotes around the country to share his message with individuals and teams. A sought-after voice in the Detroit Metro area, he’s appeared numerous times on Fox 2 “Let it Rip” as well as local radio shows.
Adam currently sits on two boards. The Governor of Michigan appointed him to the Veterans Facilities’ Board of Managers where he helps manage various policies for the two veteran homes in the state. Additionally, he was invited to sit on the Board for the Michigan Jewish Action Council who create events to cultivate critical thinking on present day issues.
Adam is a proud graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He is happily married, and they have three wonderful children. For more information on Adam, please explore his LinkedIn here and his website here.
Libby Rybacki – Veteran & Business Development Lead for the Avionics Division of Dynetics, Inc.
Libby Rybacki has consistently built community while excelling in competitive environments, and this pattern of success through teamwork started in her earliest years. She bonded with her four brothers while playing little league football and winning the league MVP award. In high school, she built strong relationships with her teammates in a variety of sports while winning a state championship. She graduated with honors in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology while building lifelong bonds with her sorority sisters and fellow Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets.
In her career as a dedicated Army officer, Libby has succeeded as few others have. As a soldier with specialized training as a Combat Engineer, Libby supervised and directed teams as they tackled a variety of rough terrain in combat situations. Her expertise includes areas such as mobility, countermobility, survivability, and general engineering as well as the construction of fighting positions, fixed/floating bridges, obstacles and defensive positions, placing and detonating explosives, route clearance of obstacles and rivers, preparing and installing firing systems for demolition and explosives, and detecting mines visually or with mine detectors. Libby also led numerous no-notice air movement logistics exercises as a member of an alert force, and she served with distinction in the highly selective and competitive special operations community. She credits her success to the relationships she has built with those around her as well as to the support she received from her church community.
After leaving Active Duty, Libby earned the Dean’s Recognition Award while completing her MBA at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where she also served as a BOLD (Building Outdoor Leader’s at Duke) Fellow and as a CASE (Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship) Fellow. In addition to her academic pursuits, she represented the Army as a member of the All-Army Triathlon team and finished her second Ironman triathlon. She now leads business development for the Avionics Division of Dynetics, Inc. For more information on Libby, please explore her LinkedIn here.
Andre W. Thornton – Founder & CEO | Whitman Consulting.
Andre W. Thornton is the Founder & CEO of Whitman Consulting. Above the sink in his home is a phrase that reads, “Change lives by helping people reach their full potential through purpose-driven leadership”. This desire has evolved into a purpose statement for Whitman Consulting that serves companies around the world by accelerating the development of their leaders. 20 years ago, Mr. Thornton started in the trenches as a young professional and moved up the ranks to the level of Engineering Director at Lockheed Martin. While there he was part of the cultural transformation across the 100,000+ employee company that resulted in tremendous year over year growth. In 2014 he shifted his career to focus on leadership development where he led the strategy and execution of the Technical Leadership Programs for Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems and Global Solutions business area.
Andre has led organizations as large as 2,000+ employees, is a 3-time recipient of the Lockheed Martin Aero Star Award, has received the Lockheed Martin Eagle Award, as well as been recognized with the national Black Engineer of the Year Special Recognition Award (BEYA) by Career Communications Group, Inc. These results are rooted in the competencies that advanced his career and are now transferred to others through Whitman Consulting’s leadership development framework called The 7 Steps to Significant Leadership Impact TM.
Since 2016, Whitman Consulting has become a sought-after partner in the leadership development arena. They are working with a growing list companies that includes Microsoft, EY, Lockheed Martin, SunTrust Banks, SNC-Lavalin, and Teamworks Inc., among others.
The 7 Steps and their science-based behavior change techniques are delivering the measurable results that organizations have been looking for in a leadership development solution.
Andre holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute and Master’s of Business Administration in Finance from the Georgia State University Robinson School of Business. For more information on Andre, please explore his LinkedIn here and his website here.
Arika Clark – Certified Professional Coach, Entrepreneur, President.
With nearly 20 years of experience in the helping professions, Arika is a success driven internationally credentialed professional coach and motivational speaker. Arika has been able to translate her passion of working with people who feel stuck in their life, into a successful practice where she is able to help individuals regain control of their lives and begin to live intentionally. In doing so, her clients gain an appreciation of and for self-care, become more successful in their lives, and have more fulfilling relationships.
As a mentor, a coach and an educator, Arika has extensive experience working with adults in diverse populations. She does so by not only empowering people but by effecting change in their lives. Arika holds a Master’s degree in Adult Education from the University of Illinois, Springfield campus, she is a Certified Professional Coach, an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and a certified administrator of the Emotional Intelligence (EQ-i2.0) assessment. In
addition to her role as a coach, Arika holds national credentials as an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter and serves as an adjunct instructor at Moraine Valley Community College.
As a strong entrepreneur, Arika is the President and founder of ASL Communications Inc., serving a multi-state area proving coaching, interpreting, and educational services for thousands of individuals each year. Understanding that it takes a village as well as the need for community involvement and engagement, in her spare time Arika generously gives of herself by her active
participation on multiple Boards. Arika is the President Elect of the International Coach Federation, Chicago Chapter and Secretary of OnePatient Global Health Initiative.
Currently living in Chicago, Arika was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where she developed one of her greatest passions, the pursuit of travel. Arika has traveled the United States extensively, visited 25 countries, and even lived in Japan where she developed curriculum and taught English as a Second Language for prominent local business programs. The experiences she gained during her times inland and abroad have shaped her global perspectives, providing her a
valuable insight into her very diverse clientele. For all of these reasons, and more,
Founded by Court Whitman, the High Performance Pathways Mastermind Group is a purpose-built and specially selected cohort of professionals chasing high performance in their life. We meet twice a month for 3-months to collaborate with high performing thought leaders in order to grow in perspective and develop increased competence so that we can return to our personal and professional work and perform at high levels.
THE KEY TASKS OF THE HIGH PERFORMANCE PATHWAYS MASTERMIND GROUP
THE PURPOSE OF THE HIGH PERFORMANCE PATHWAYS MASTERMIND GROUP
Exposure to high performing individuals and perspectives to enable growth and the development of competence so that each specially-selected participant can perform at higher levels.
Each participant selected for Summer 2019 Cohort will receive:
HOW TO JOIN THE HIGH PERFORMANCE PATHWAYS MASTERMINDS GROUP
We’re all chasing High Performance in our lives in one way or another. But how is High Performance actually defined? Consider this definition – High Performance is success in desired results above established norms over the long-term.
Now let’s unpack that definition into three parts to best understand how High Performance is defined.
Part 1. Success in desired results. What does success mean? What does it look like? Consider the simplicity found in goal setting and ask yourself “Are you achieving the goals you set for yourself in your personal and professional life?” And oh – by the way – you have to set goals. So, if you haven’t set goals, I recommend you begin with a goal setting exercise. For goal setting – use the SMART framework – as goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Once goals are set, you must evaluate whether or not you are achieving them or not. That’s why the “M – Measurable” is such an important part of goal setting. If you are achieving your goals, reflect on why that is happening and sustain those actions that have enabled your success. If you’re not meeting the goals that you’ve established for yourself, reflect on why not, and develop a new strategy to achieve those goals and hold yourself accountable in the pursuit of each goal. Partnering with a coach for either goal establishment or service as an accountability partner can be incredibly valuable.
Part 2. Above established norms. Are you living, and serving, a life that is consistent with the norms you’ve established for yourself? For me, norms are broken down into two separate categories: (1) Individual norms and (2) Organizational or Team norms.
Individual norms create and reflect Identity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Identity as “the distinguishing character of an individual.” And character is “the mental and moral qualities distinct to you.” I believe that character is most effectively communicated through Core Values. Core Values are those 3-5 characteristics of yourself that are non-negotiable and significantly impact your decision making. What is your identity? Identifying and defining your Core Values is a critical step to performing at a high level during.
Organizations and Teams also have norms that inform and reflect identity. More times than not, this organizational/team identity is referred to as the “culture” of the team or organization. Strong organizational and team culture begins with a Vision, a Mission and Core Values that are defined, communicated, and used to hire new employees and used to hold existing employees accountable to the behavioral norms. An important question to reflect upon, as you examine your individual norms and the norms found in your organization or team, is whether or not your individual norms are aligned with the norms of your organization/team. If there is core value alignment, you likely thrive at work. If core value alignment doesn’t exist for you, there is likely an anxiety within you at work that is disrupting your ability to perform at a high level.
part 3. Over the long-term. How is the long-term defined? The answer to this question is – “it depends.” It depends on you! The long-term for you may be “get me through today.” For the salesperson, the long-term may be get me through 2nd quarter 2019. Or maybe you’re on a team like Tom Brady, and the long-term may be get me through that 7th Superbowl so I can win it and make NFL history. The beauty about the long-term is that you get to define it.
High Performance. Success in desired results above established norms over the long-term. Chasing High Performance? Let’s chat!