• 30 Mar 2015 7:03 PM | Anonymous

    I spent the weekend in a coaching program with a very rich and powerful woman. By immersing myself in her world, learning what she does and how her business is structured, I discovered many things about leadership.


    Go back and read that first sentence again. Notice I didn’t say “wealthy”. Nor did I say she was a great leader. In fact, she was neither.


    She was a very intense personality with an immense drive to succeed. In fact, she was so focused on the business aspect, of the work that needed to be done, that she completely neglected the people around her.  She referred to “my team” as if they were chattel, and talked fast and loud at the attendees without taking time to know anything about us or if we were following what she was saying.  One of the coaches talked about “flying too close to the sun” to describe his relationship with her. And there were many people in the program who were struggling to understand what they were supposed to do. For those with a similar intensity, the event was absolutely amazing and taught many valuable lessons. Unfortunately, the majority were left on the side of the road like debris flying out the back of a pickup truck as it speeds down the highway.


    Marshall Goldsmith, in his paper, Leadership is a Contact Sport, says that “Leadership is a relationship.”  To inspire others, leaders must foster relationships to meet people where they are and then help them find a path to a better future. I believe that people do their best work when the work they do is at the intersection of three things: what they are good at, what they like to do and what they feel is important. When we spend time with people, getting to know their dreams, their desires, their skills, fears and values, we are better able to help them find the place where they can excel.


    This rich and powerful woman from the weekend might have been very successful in materialistic terms, but I have to wonder if she has any relationships that would survive an empty bank account. Maybe that is ok for her, but my value system measures wealth as something greater than dollars and cents.


    About Joanne Eckton

    Joanne is a transformational leader, a widely recognized expert in aligning teams to perform with purpose and improve performance. Her passion is for transforming the workplace so that employees are inspired by what they do and the companies in which they work.  For a free report, 6 Steps to Improve Team Performance, Retain Top Talent and Virtually Eliminate Morale Problems, visit
  • 12 Dec 2014 5:16 PM | Anonymous

    Last month I shared some things I’ve learned or refocused on this year. This month, as I wrap up my term as chapter president, I want to share a few of our chapter’s accomplishments with you.

    Website changes - We added news, archives, and blog features.  Additionally, we updated our by laws and Board of Directors job descriptions which are posted for you to review.

    New name – The organization as a whole has a new name and the chapter changed its name as well.  The chapter previously known as ASTD of Middle Tennessee is now ATD Nashville.

    Mentoring program – This new program was established this summer. We’ve offered opportunities to connect mentees and mentors at recent chapter meetings.  Learn more and get involved at our January 2015 meeting!

    New member orientation - Our membership committee has dusted off and revamped our orientation presentation. It will also be used as an information session for future members to learn more about ATD Nashville.

    Additional we held a successful Day of Learning event in February, where we heard keynote speakers from NASA and HCA. We also added more lunch and breakfast meetings in an effort to accommodate more members.  Because you asked for variety, we held meetings in midtown, downtown, Brentwood, Cool Springs, and the airport area.  We even added post-meeting socials to our offerings.

    It’s been my privilege to serve you as ATD Nashville president this year. I’ve learned a lot in this role.  I’ve had the honor of working with an auspicious Board; I’ve experienced some career-building events, and gained some lasting friendships. Thank you for being a part of it!

    Angela Ellis Nelson, Chapter President, 2014

  • 12 Nov 2014 5:15 PM | Anonymous

    When I learn something the hard way, that’s an ouch!  When I discover a new best practice, that’s an ah-ha!  Here are a few my ouches and ah-ha’s from 2014:

    Ouch #1:  Learning styles don’t predict learning effectiveness.  Some tests that are supposed to measure learning styles only measure interests and preferences. Even if a person enjoys games,  they may not process and retain information that way.

    Ouch #2:  Online learning is not always better.  E-learning is readily available and consistent.  However, it is not the best solution for every need. For some skills, interaction, individualized guidance, observation, and demonstration are essential.

    Ouch #3:  Practice does not make perfect.  A new driver doesn’t become an expert by continually driving around the block.  They improve their skills by driving in varied conditions, like high traffic and low visibility. Classroom learning works the same way.

    Ah Ha #1:  Evaluate the right thing at the right time.  In the early stages of learning, I focus on what the learner is doing rather than how well he or she is doing it.  Weeks and months later, I’ll access changes in proficiency.

    Ah Ha #2:  Allow errors.  I encourage organizations to encourage mistakes.  They are memorable and drive innovation.  Learners tend to remember their failures (their ouches!) and strive not to repeat them.

    Ah Ha #3:  Always debrief the activity.  Don’t assume the lesson behind the exercise is intuitive.  Debriefing solidifies the learning points and aids in retention. 

    Angela Ellis Nelson, Chapter President, 2014

  • 13 Oct 2014 8:44 AM | Anonymous member

    Change is Happening.  Be Ready.

    I’m sure your organization like most others is facing changes.  Changes can be related to processes, products, branding or expansion.  It can also be driven by environment, economy, customer demand, or competition. 

    During times of change, productivity and morale often decline, according to a recent ATD study.   Learning professionals have an opportunity to make a real impact on organizations by being a part of change management efforts.  Team members and leadership count on us for coaching, support, and team building during these uncertain times.  When a change occurs, a number of stages taking place:

    Disoriented – This is what teams sometimes experience at the beginning of a change.  This stage brings about feelings of anxiety or even anger.  This is the time to guide leadership as they provide information, explain rationale and show empathy to their staff.

    Resigned - When people realize the change is going to happen-- whether they like it or not -- they resign to getting it done or at least exploring it.  You’ll find that individuals are not necessarily excited, but now is the time to start baby-stepping them through the change. Learning professionals can help leadership ensure that expectations are communicate.  This is also when team members’ ideas should be sought and executed.  We can help drive that too.

    Integrated – This phase is when change has been implemented.  Groups will experience successes and make mistakes during this period.  An OD professional or coach can help leaders develop plans for follow-up, measurement, and evaluation.  They can also encourage teams to celebrate achievements. 

    In talent development, we are equipped and positioned to help our organizations conquer change effectively.   Finding new ways to leverage our influence keeps us relevant – during times of change and all the time.

  • 11 Sep 2014 12:13 PM | Anonymous member

    Picture this.  You just unloaded clothes from the dryer and you're heading down the hallway to your bedroom or living room to sort and fold.  If you're not transporting the clothes in a basket, inevitably you will drop something -- a sock or someone's unmentionables perhaps. So, what do you do? Even though you're already struggling to hold everything, you'll attempt to pick up that fallen article.  You don't fold the clothes and then go back for it;  you go get it right away.  Your focus becomes that ONE thing.  It's not that the other things aren't important; but that ONE occupies your mind.   

    Over the last few weeks, I've been planning my wedding.  Most everything in my life is managed in terms of how it aligns, conflicts, or helps with that event.  Homecoming is post-wedding.  The yard sale is pre-wedding.   But, the impending marriage is the focus.  Everything else simply falls somewhere around it.   The other things are important and I can give them attention as needed, but they are not my main focus.

    We as humans tend to focus on one thing; even though we attempt to multitask we tend to have one track minds.   Think about the last time you were doing more than one thing simultaneously.  You might be washing dishes while talking to a friend on the phone.  In that case your probably paying attention to the phone conversation and not focusing on the dishes.  Two things that require your full attention wont equitably coexist.  That's why we shouldn't text while driving.  We can't be attentive to both at the same time -- We have one track minds.  

    Since we function best with one focus at a time, I challenge you to concentrate on just one thing.  What is the one thing you should  accomplish, improve or complete?  There may be several, but truthfully you can't focus on them all at once.  You need to achieve one thing, check it off the list, and move on to the next big thing.  Whether its procrastinating less, reading more, or working out more often, you need to focus on the one thing and make it your priority. Continually look for ways, moments, and resources to work at that one thing.  Don't forgot about those other important tasks, jobs, and roles, but keep your focus. 

    Angela Ellis Nelson

  • 15 Aug 2014 1:23 PM | Anonymous member

    If three teams are told to complete the same task, the one that will be successful is the one given the tools, direction, and possessing the skills needed to complete the task.  If a team has two of these three drivers, that team may still get the job done but they are likely to be slower and less effective than the team possessing all three drivers. 

    In the talent development world, we have the opportunity on a regular (even daily) basis to influence each of these three key drivers.  Research shows that when organizations focus on providing these drivers, its employees feel a sense of autonomy; feel valued; are self directed and self motivated; and continually focus on the organization’s priorities.

    This is what is known as an engaged workforce -- the type of workforce that every organization tries to create and/or maintain.   

    Here are some outcomes an engaged workforce generates for organizations:

    • An engaged workforce reaches its full performance potential.
    • Engaged teams are self directed and self motivated.
    • The engaged workforce shares ideas and helps others.
    • Engaged staff produce business results including increased customer loyalty, sales, market share, and profit. 
    • The engaged staff also solves problems and seeks process improvements. 

    Again, these are all results of a workforce having the tools, direction, and skills needed to perform.  You and I as learning professionals need to remain focused on these three key drivers.  We need to be committed to providing job readiness tools to learners.  We must ensure training that supports organizational direction, we also must focus every learning opportunity on skills development. 

    The Talent Development function doesn’t own engagement; that is to say we aren’t solely responsible for engagement.  We are, however, catalysts for it.  If engagement is the goal of your organization, and you drive engagement, you are an essential component  of the organization.  

    Angela Ellis, Chapter President 2014

  • 15 Jul 2014 1:20 PM | Anonymous member

    The world mourned the loss of Nelson Mandela in December and since July is his birthmonth, I thought I would some of the life lessons I learned from him that helped me to develop as a learning professional .

    Here are 7 things Madiba would never do (and we shouldn’t either):

    1. Lack Courage

    Leaders that don’t stand up for what they believe in are difficult to respect and trust. Too many leaders today face the dilemma of assimilating our being their authentic selves.   Employees want leaders who are willing to stand up for them, promote them and show confidence in them. 

    When leaders lack the courage to enable their full potential and that of others, it becomes a challenge to trust their judgment, decisions, awareness and capabilities.


    2.  Have Hidden Agendas

    Leaders today are often viewed as devious and manipulating. Employees want to follow leaders who live by a set of value and continually strive to reach team and organization goals.   To avoid the impression of shadiness, leaders must state their motives plainly, explain rationale behind decisions, and clarify purpose.

    3. Be Self-Centered

    Employee catch on to leaders self-serving intentions. When a leader is only looking out for him- or herself employee expect the worst of them.  Employees then start to look out for themselves.  That  means they might resist cross training and mentoring, and refrain from sharing ideas and solutions.

    Great leaders are great coaches and are always looking to help their employees grow and prosper.  

    4. Damage Own Reputation

    When people begin to speak negatively about their leader, it makes it more difficult for others to trust their intentions and vision. We've seen in presidential races, that candidate have a high approval rating during elections.  However, once in office, when it's time to show what they are really about, approval rating often drop drastically. Every leader must be aware that he/she is constantly being evaluated and thus they can never grow complacent.  Sharpen the saw, continue to produce.


    5. Show Inconsistent Performance

    People are more inclined to trust those who are consistent.  A leaders credibility is not only built on their character but their track record of results as well.  Employees gain trust in a leader as they see consistent performance.  Leaders who are consistent with their behavior and performance are those who can be trusted. This is why leaders need to refresh their leadership style, skills, and competencies regularly. 

    6.  Avoid Working Hands-On

     Delegation is fine when don't appropriately and with a purpose.  Leaders should not dump unwanted task on others just to avoid work.  Employees expect leaders to be willing to get their hands dirty.  Leaders should be engaged in the work and daily operations.   When everyone has to work late, the leader is not exception.  When others take a pay cut, the leader is the first to be affected.

    7. Lack Purpose

    Leaders must understand that they goal is to help others succeed.   I heard a comedian say that he used to think it was his job to make people laugh then he realized it's his job to give people an opportunity to laugh.  It took a while for me to understand this, but essentially he was saying his role is not to force anything or anyone.  He is a conduit; a catalyst; and at the core - a servant. 

    For the Learning Professional, we can't have the greatest impact or influence if we are not trusted and seen as leaders.  Following this leadership model can help us make an indelible impression and put us in a position to change our organizations.

     Angela Ellis, Chapter President 2014

  • 15 Apr 2014 1:18 PM | Anonymous member

    As I reflect over the first quarter of 2014, I would say we’ve had some awesome events and experiences.  We had our second DOL in February which was a huge success.  We also added a different twist by offering a morning meeting, which some of our members requested on the 2013 annual survey. 

     I also recall our January Chapter Meeting when Mr. Madan Birla spoke to us about Getting a Seat at the C- table.  The 3-time author and former FED EX exec advised us to speak the executive language.  To me, that means to talk about what they care about.  Generally CEOs, CFO, and COOs care about profits, sales, and future growth and developing related strategies.  Where we may be able to help as learning professional is with plans for executing and building energy around those strategies.  

    Speaking their language also indicates that training professionals must use the words they use. In my work, I've found that the C-suite tends to focus on verbiage such as performance, revenue, market share, cost and brand.  This brings to mind a few questions for the learning professional:  Can you contribute by teaching employees to be more proficient in order to reduce costs? Can you get the C-suite’s attention by coaching managers to lead more effectively to optimize performance?  Are you able to impact the way your organization acquires talent who will we ultimately generate revenue?

    Training is typically seen as a functional area, not a strategic one.  However, one function of training and development is to support the organization in ways that increase profits, gain customer and generate growth.  We are in a position to prepare others to be brand ambassadors, as well.  We can accomplish this by making sure our workforce understands our respective brands, products, services, and initiatives.  

    In short, we should look at re-framing the focus of our efforts.  Learning professionals often focus on completing training events and getting certain evaluation scores.   I see this as an opportunity for learning professionals to stay relevant and sustain our place in the business.

    Angela Ellis

  • 15 Mar 2014 1:16 PM | Anonymous member

    This year our chapter mission is sustainability and relevance in the learning industry.  I think we hit the mark with our 2nd annual day of learning!    We gathered tools to keep us relevant.  We explored various techniques to sustain and improve our positions in our organization.    We even learned how to be significant in the C-suite.   Here are some of my biggest takeaways from Day of Learning:

    If you want to be excellent, model yourself after excellence.

    Bobby Frist shared that in healthcare, they use the nuclear and airline industries as standards for safety and effectiveness.  In these industries, mishaps are unacceptable because they lead to major disasters with many casualties.  In healthcare, mistakes can be disastrous as well.  By learning from the best, we get better.

    Effective training is continual and exciting, rather than a single (forgettable) event. 

    In best in class healthcare organizations, EMTs practice CPR all year long.  They compete to be at the top of their leaderboard by administering CPR quickly and successfully during these practice sessions.  Imagine if an EMT needed to administer CPR and he hadn’t practiced in a year because yearly certification is all the state requires.  For most of us, lives are not at stake on our jobs;  However,  everyday, profit, market share, customers, and our brand are on the line.  Making training continual and memorable helps learners retain skills and perform better when those skills are needed.

    Training for high pressure, demanding jobs need emotional, mental and practical components. 

    This subject intrigued me so I did a little research of my own.  Forbes recently published a top 10 list of stressful jobs.  As you might imagine, firefighter, military personnel, police officer, pilots made the list.  Also, some of the people you might be training are listed, including teachers, corporate executives, and event coordinators.   Our DOL speaker from NASA explained that when training astronauts she uses realistic role plays and simulation to address practical learning.  Veterans also join newbies to share experiences, best practices and lessons learned. On the mental and emotional side personnel also undergo a variety of stability evaluation, suitability testing, solitude readiness assessments, and emotion management training.   I can find ways to use these tools with my clients; can you?

    Leaders should learn to be leaders.  Followers should learn to be followers.

    Our NASA speaker told us that astronauts experience leadership and followership training.    It’s important that they learn to relinquish control when necessary.  They need to allow the best suited, best prepared person to handle each task.  They are taught to have the courage to follow a leader, support him or her, and help the team reach its common goals.  Astronauts be 100% committed to the direction that’s provided. That doesn’t mean they don’t get to ask critical question; but that doesn’t mean that endless debate and discussion isn’t feasible.   When someone bucks again leadership for self-interested reasons, they are only sabotaging the team.  Do you know anyone who could use followership training?  I know I do.  

  • 04 Feb 2014 12:14 PM | Anonymous member

    I often joke with friends who have never visited Nashville that they shouldn’t come.  I explain to them that after one visit they will be hooked on the city and probably relocate here.  But, despite my efforts, the rest of the world is talking about Middle Tennessee:

    New York Times added Nashville to its list of 52 places to go in 2014.  Travel and Leisure magazine rates Nashville one of its 2014 Best Places to Travel.  Forbes crowned middle Tennessean a region to watch in 2014.  Huffington Post published 22 reasons to visit Nashville in a January 2014 publication.  MSN named Nashville one of the 10 Most Popular Cities for Millennials in its January 2014 release.  Nashville also made MSN’s Top 10 Green City 2014.  Middle Tennessee is on Fodor’s Go List for 2014 as well.

    Information such as this could be useful to the workplace training professional.  Think of the many ways you could share this data with learners, clients, and candidates with whom you interact.    I thought of presenting these interesting accolades during New Employee Orientation to educate new hires about the area in which they live and work.  I might also share with recruiting teams to assist them with their efforts.  One could share related articles during internship programs as a way to encourage interns to stay in the area (and with the company) post-graduation.   Think of how you might build ice breakers or other exercises around this data, or even create poll questions to stimulate participation during webinars. I think there could also be an opportunity to build credibility by demonstrating that you are an informed and relevant professional.

    Clearly Middle Tennessee is considered a wonderful place in which to conduct business, build a life, and explore opportunities.  I once referred to Middle Tennessee as the best keep secret this side of the Mississippi; but it’s clearly not a secret anymore.  Let’s spread the good news!

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