Chemistry
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The Chemistry of Culture

We’ve been thinking about the Second Law of Thermodynamics recently. Just us? Yeah, that’s why it’s been on our minds. Because this concept that we’ve probably not thought about since high school chemistry class has a direct application for leadership today. 

Without intervention, things lose order over time. A few practical examples include that cars rust, weeds overtake gardens, foundations crumble, sandcastles are swept away by the wind and waves. The inevitable trend of all things is that they break down unless energy is poured into them. Nothing escapes the Second Law of Thermodynamics…including our organizations! 

COVID-19 has created the perfect storm to accelerate breakdown and disorder within our organizations. But we can invest energy to create stability, structure, and simplicity by delivering on a few essential leadership disciplines.

Elevate What is Important.
Organizations thrive when goals are prioritized and clear. When everything matters, nothing matters, and confusion and chaos reign. As leaders, we can provide stability and direction by clarifying what matters most right now. One of our clients is perfectly executing this idea by elevating three objectives right now:

  1. Flatten the Curve.
  2. Protect our Employees.
  3. Maintain our Workforce. 

Simple, specific, straightforward. These are the things that matter most to the organization right now, and everyone knows it.

Communicate Clearly and Consistently.
Once we identify what’s most important, we must communicate those priorities continually. We’ve shared before that experts suggest messaging needs to be delivered seven times before it’s internalized (we’ll get there eventually). While the rule of seven may not be an exact science, the point remains that people need to hear a message clearly, repeatedly, over time, using different formats. James, our founder and CEO, encourages the use of a simple refrain to ensure we communicate effectively: 

  • Say It.
  • Write It.
  • Ask It. 

In our experience, the last idea may be the most important because it ensures people heard the message we intended to deliver.

Tend to Your Team.
COVID-19 is likely the most challenging scenario that your leadership team has encountered, individually or collectively, as they face unpleasant decisions at work and difficult moments at home (home-school,anyone?). We recognize it’s tough on you too, but as the premier leader of your organization or team, it’s on your shoulders to support them. Set aside time for one-on-ones with each team member at least every other week. Explore questions that check both head and heart, such as:

  • What positive experiences are you and your family enjoying right now?
  • What’s the toughest part of COVID-19 for your family?
  • What are you doing to take care of yourself amid these challenges and how often are you doing it?
  • As a leader, what’s been the hardest part of this crisis?
  • Tell me one thing I do to help you today?

—–

Bonus Thought: While we love the idea of batting 1.000, perfection isn’t required to reverse breakdown or disorder. You won’t be able to implement each of these ideas today, so just try one. Keeping the ball in play is a win!

Ethos Leadership Group, LLC

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Sherri Ferrell

“Whether it’s using a self-assessment process to identify ways to improve board effectiveness, leading the board in strategy development and succession planning, or assisting with CEO performance evaluations, Ethos is skilled at assessing the scope of a board’s needs and devising strategies to help improve their performance and the performance of their organizations.”

Sherri Ferrell
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Lisa Jones

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Lisa Jones
Chief Executive Officer, Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center
Renee Steffen

“Ethos was a true consultative partner in our strategic planning process. They listened to our organization’s feedback and were flexible in incorporating modifications into the process in a way that demonstrated they valued our organization’s culture and history. In addition to walking alongside us every step of the way, Ethos’s facilitation skills are top-notch. They helped move the conversation forward during critical breakthrough moments while ensuring everyone felt heard and valued. Several of our board members commented that it was the best strategic planning process in which they had ever participated. I can tell Ethos has a passion for helping clients move forward in a positive direction and this positive energy was highly evident in our experience working with them. We weren’t just another client but rather, we were a valued partner in the work!”

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Stacy DeCicco

“Our work with the Ethos team has impacted nearly every facet of our organization. Our initial experience engaged our board in a strategic thinking exercise. This half day event was originally scheduled to be an isolated experience; what it became was a launching point for organizational growth, professional development, and intentional, sustainable efforts. Our amazing experience within the strategic planning session brought mission and vision centered decision making to life for our team. The conversations of that day were not simply discussions that were archived and put on a shelf at the end of the meeting. They quickly transformed into digestible, attainable action items. Immediate implementation was possible because of the ongoing support and facilitation we received from the Ethos team. That energy and momentum flowed from the board, through our team, and out to the agencies that we support and engage across the community. We are a stronger organization because we are now able to execute our mission and serve our community better than ever before. The investment Ethos has made with us has created ripples that are felt further than they can ever be measured!”

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Executive Director, United Way Alliance of the Mid‑Ohio Valley
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“After spending two weeks embedded with our operational team and reviewing hundreds of documents, Ethos provided a comprehensive analysis and set of recommendations that addressed HR, Infrastructure, Leadership, Finance, Programs & Services, Planning, and Customer Service. Following Ethos’ analysis, we executed a plan to adopt sixteen (16) actionable steps that improved our operations while honoring the culture and values of our company and our client.”

“This entire experience set in motion a plan of execution that the community and its residents have benefited from and will for years to come. I highly recommend Ethos and their entire leadership team.”

Greg Franks
Vice President Southeast Region, AAM
Lisa Leach

“I best describe our organization’s experience of leadership development with Ethos Leadership Group as a journey of discovery that leads to building effective teams who are willing to break the silo mentality that often holds organizations from reaching their true potential. I have watched members of both our Management and C-Suite
levels grow and mature through the process Ethos Leadership Group has developed. Staff actively participates in assisting each other to achieve interdepartmental and strategic goals and share in each other’s successes rather than focus on one another’s missed opportunities. Through the discussion-based approach, our management team has learned to feel more confident in their decisionmaking abilities resulting in more effective and timely decisions. Ethos does a tremendous job of defining characteristics of effective leadership and helping staff to identify how their weaknesses and strengths can work in harmony to achieve organizational goals.”

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Chief Executive Officer, Southern West Virginia Health System
Wendy Gall

“My time participating in the Ethos Executive Coaching program was a pivotal point
for me both professionally, as a new leader, and personally. Based off of a deep understanding of me as an individual, my coach was able to provide invaluable
insights and practices that helped guide me at a time in my career that was, I have to admit, a bit overwhelming. Our insightful discussions, along with the relationship that grew throughout our time working together, challenged me to grow in my areas of weakness and build on my strength, helped me formulate my thoughts around my leadership style, and provided me the tools and support I needed to gain confidence in becoming the authentic leader I am today.”

Wendy Gall
Director, Customer Care Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, First National Bank of Omaha
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“Ethos Leadership has been a trusted partner of OnSomble for several years. All members of our executive team trust and rely on Ethos’ expertise and advice. I have personally benefited tremendously by having Ethos available as a sounding board for strategic decisions over my years as COO and CEO at OnSomble. I can confidently say that Ethos consistently plays an important role in the continued growth and success of our company. I would unequivocally recommend the Ethos Leadership Group to any organization that wants to excel.”

Enderson Miranda
Chief Executive Officer, OnSomble, Inc.
Craig Glover

“The team at Ethos Leadership Group are great partners. They listened to my goals and developed a plan specific to my needs. Often, leadership groups have one approach they try to use for every situation. Ethos is different. Their various tools and approaches allows them to develop a custom plan for your organization.”

“The onsite work with the Ethos team was excellent. They are interactive, engaging, and fun. The session felt like a group of friends having a candid discussion as opposed to a work session. I highly recommend working with Ethos Leadership Group.”

Craig Glover
President and CEO, FamilyCare Health Centers
David Ray - Ethos Leadership Group

Ethos Team:

David Ray

Chief Strategy Officer

In 2017, David joined Ethos as the Chief Strategy Officer after leading and advising in the non-profit sector. An organizational troubleshooter and natural synergist, David leverages his analytical and relational skills to help clients take their business and team to their desired next level. With a passion to see others live and lead well, David enjoys connecting leaders to evidence-based practices to boost leadership capacity, build human capital, and improve organizational performance. David particularly enjoys working with clients through strategic planning, executive coaching, and team development.

Fast Facts:

  1. Started his own property investment company at the age of 24
  2. Certified Human Behavior Consultant
  3. David enjoys spending time with his family, traveling to islands, and pretty much anything that has to do with personal development
Rebekah D. Mathis-Stump, J.D. - Ethos Leadership Group

Ethos Team:

Rebekah D. Mathis-Stump, J.D.

Chief Operating Officer

Becky joined Ethos in 2009 after leading the daily operations of five distinct work teams over a ten-year period. An analyst and solution-generator by nature, she works with clients to identify their needs and develops a plan of action to reach their desired results. Having worked in numerous disciplines in her career, Becky is a generalist who brings a broad range of knowledge and experience to our clients. Becky particularly enjoys working with clients on organizational audits, strategic planning, employee training, and governance.

Fast Facts:

  1. Lived in numerous states growing up, finally claiming West Virginia as home after marrying a native son, Jeff Stump
  2. Received life membership in The Order of the Barristers — a national honor society
  3. Becky enjoys reading, golfing, and cheering on the West Virginia University Mountaineers
Dr. James A. Johnson - Ethos Leadership Group

Ethos Team:

Dr. James A. Johnson

Chief Executive Officer

In 1988, James launched our enterprise with a vision for enhancing the image, credibility, and ethics of companies and nonprofit organizations through training and coaching. As Ethos’ founder, he is our chief transformation officer – encouraging us to dream bigger dreams and mentoring us to achieve them. James brings this same passion to our clients, skillfully blending inspiration with practical application in his work. James’ primary areas of expertise include leadership and communication.

Fast Facts:

  1. Great Plains Development Officer at Pheasants Forever.
  2. Received President’s Volunteer Service Award (presented by President George W. Bush)
  3. James enjoys spending time with his wife (Lesa), hunting, golfing, and riding motorcycles