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Transformational Leadership: Leadership Institute Commits to Shift Their Staff, Students, and Prospects to a New Online Social World

By Dean R. DeLisle

The Business/Organization

The Wright Leadership Institute is a human potential business offering both credit and non-credit courses in human performance and fulfillment. Formed in 1997, the Institute today generates 2.5 to 2.8 million in revenue while serving an ongoing base of 200-300 students in addition to the thousands it reaches through its corporate training and consulting, publications, speakers bureau, and media appearances.

Dr. Bob Wright and Dr. Judith Wright began the business as a merger of their existing businesses --- Bob's  leadership development and executive coaching business begun after selling his top-ranked national employee assistance program, and Judith's spiritual and personal development business, which she founded upon leaving her joint appointment as clinical program director for the Illinois Department of Developmental Disabilities and the University of Illinois, Chicago. 

Today, the Institute's offerings include four main modalities: coaching, seminars, learning laboratories, and time-limited group projects aimed at developing individuals to their fullest potential in all areas of life.

The Partnership

Dr. Bob Wright contacted Dean DeLisle to consult with them. Having been recently engaged in a nationally known social media trainer they were dissatisfied with, Dr. Wright heard from a graduate of one of the Institute's personal transformation programs, James Gustin of Fig Media, that the methods of Forward Progress had helped firms generate sufficient inbound referrals as to replace cold calling and a number of other sales practices that the twelve-member staff of the Wright Leadership Institute engaged in regularly.

The Challenge

Three years prior to engaging Dean DeLisle, the Wright Leadership Institute had begun changing their business model. Rather than engaging a small number of high-dollar clients in one-on-one coaching and small groups as they did in their early incarnation, they began offering large-format public seminars gratis to introduce their philosophy and services. These weekend-long seminars were also the vehicle for selling their year-long signature program, the Year of More, which retails at $8k and is discounted to $6k only on these public weekends.

Having relied on media and book tours in the early stages of the program to generate traffic for this weekend, program enrollment had reached a plateau, and Dr. Wright recognized the need to change the culture to become more of a sales and marketing organization.

The task they gave the Forward Progress team was to coach and train their staff and students on Social Networking in order to increase enrollment into their core programs. Dean's first contact with the Wright Leadership Institute and Dr. Judith Wright were weekly staff social media training sessions they had begun a few weeks prior, in which they auditioned Dean and the Forward Progress team as an alternative to the trainer they had previously engaged. Since this initial meeting, the organizations have developed a very deep partnership. Forward Progress's regulated coaching program empowers Wright students and staff alike at all levels of the organization-from coaching Dr. Bob Wright and Dr. Judith Wright individually, to weekly and as-needed staff coaching sessions, to trainings and seminars for all interested students.

The Approach

In order to support the immediate needs of the Institute, Forward Progress began with a general training engagement. However, with the recognized decline in enrollment, mostly to do with the economy, Forward Progress quickly proposed a shift in strategy to focus on a coaching program for the staff and executive team while maintaining training for their student body.

The coaching was comprised of establishing the immediate goals and objective for the very next weekend training. Since we had less than sixty days to work with, we agreed to use the existing goals they had missed in the last two events to see if the goals were realistic. There also was the challenge of the upcoming holidays, during which the senior management team would be leading training overseas.

Forward Progress assigned a two-person coaching team to assist the twelve-person staff and created an aggressive sixty-day coaching schedule. With no time to spare, sessions began almost immediately. Within those sessions, the coaching staff made sure that the outcome of the event was tied to the personal goals of each participant so they could be emotionally engaged.

With the support of Forward Progress, the Wright Leadership Team began to quickly coordinate, improve, and execute in the following areas:

  • Clarified Objectives
  • Confirmed Target Prospects
  • Defined Partnership and Alliances
  • Assembled Content
  • Coordinated Delivery
  • Aligned Team
  • Conducted Online Community Outreach

The Value Delivered

 Within sixty days of the first coaching and training sessions, the staff and student body seemed to respond very well. Being in an environment where "transformation" is enforced and practiced permitted the adoption process to accelerate. Normally, Forward Progress would be hesitant to take such a large group without a pilot program; however with early testing in the first few weeks, they knew this had increased potential.

Enrollment in the next More Life Training weekend program, which took place in the first 90 days of coaching, increased by 40%. Other amazing shifts took place along the way. The Wright staff team's enrollment increased by100%, doubling any previous efforts.

Furthermore, students who were trained reported that the social media skills they learned for the More Life enrollment effort were impacting their sales in their own businesses-vaulting some to trusted advisor status with clients they'd courted, and boosting seasoned salespeople to as much as 180% of their goal in the first two months of the year, among other transformational results.

Since the writing of this article, the Wright Leadership Institute is on pace to surpass this mentioned performance and are now realigning their growth plan to include new facilities and a national expansion.

This proves that with the right mindset and a willingness to transform, there is no bad economy.

Dean R. DeLisle has proven his ability to accelerate contacts, business development, and operations with sound business practices, the ever-evolving power of technology, and his consulting, coaching, and training skills over the past 25 years. More about Dean in the WABC Member Directory. Contact Dean.

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