After reading the phrase in the Solutions 21 materials, “We forge elite leaders,” I became intrigued, liking the idea of “forging” new leadership behaviors through pressure and intentionally sustained heat.  I benchmarked with other companies and heard the results from the cost for a year of solid leadership soak-time for a group of high potential leaders.  And, in 2022, as the Vice President of HR for an ENR top-ranked construction company, I hired Solutions 21 to forge our elite leaders through Executive Coaching and Next Leader Now (NLN) programs.  The results quickly became apparent.

What I didn’t expect at the time was that I would soon be the one forged under heat and pressure as I went through the Solutions 21 Leadership Certification process just 18 months later.  Having developed tremendous respect for the company and the team I’d worked with earlier, my personal experience was exciting, humbling and a source of honor. 

What I didn’t expect (or perhaps underestimated) was the intensity of this certification program. “Forging” took on a new meaning with extensive self-study, facilitated virtual training, my own 1:1 coaching sessions, a Personal Strategic Plan, personalized DiSC assessment (“game film”), and a lot of self-reflection.   My cohort partner and I met regularly to practice the materials as well as commiserate … this was A LOT.  It was, however, one of the most energizing learning experiences I’d ever had, and my husband kept commenting on how I was “All In” to do well with my team. 

The capstone of the program came in delivering the materials via a virtual environment, followed by two mock 1:1 coaching sessions providing true heat and pressure.  Hard, humbling, and honest, it generated some of the best and most critical feedback I’d ever received.  I had to dig deep to accept the performance feedback (more “game film”) they offered, manage my energy and “get over it,” and use positive self-talk to shift my perspective.  (For those of you reading this who have already worked with Solutions 21, you’ll recognize these as some of the Nine Behaviors of World-Class Performers). 

What did I learn?  First and foremost, I made the right call to hire this team when I was in the C-suite.  This process of forging elite leadership consultants and coaches is intense and leans deeply into everything the team then takes forward to clients.  In other words, Solutions 21 “walks the talk” in developing consultants and coaches – something I hadn’t fully realized when I was on the client side.  Second, it reinforced that being a better leader, consultant, coach, team member, friend, partner, spouse, and/or parent all require continuous repetition and improvement – and, at times, it isn’t going to feel good.  Finally, I learned to deeply trust this team of world-class consultants and coaches as they took me to a new level, one that I hadn’t even realized was waiting for me. 

I’ve been forged.