Cindy Maher, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Leading Edge Coaching & Development, used her passion, humor, and corporate training background to build a successful coaching business more than a decade ago.
Maher’s background began with a customer service job at Aetna in 1990 that led to training opportunities. “I quickly realized I could combine teaching and training,” she remembers, “And I liked it because there was always free coffee.”
Gradually, Maher worked her way up and eventually thought she “had made it.” She recalls, “I had a parking spot and a big office.” But something was lacking.
Carol Grannis had worked with Maher on a corporate training team at ING that involved traveling and teaching together. Although Maher was living and working in Connecticut and Grannis was living and working in Minnesota, the two had connected as a result of their unique background—both were involved with Human Relations and business and both had theatre majors.
Maher remembers a time when she and Grannis were teaching a management coaching course in Atlanta, GA. “We were trying to explain something specific and we began improvising a basketball coach scene. Something happened—everyone sat up and paid attention,” she says. “It was definitely an ‘a-ha moment’ for us. This was when we began incorporating theatre into our training.”
In 2003, Grannis had just had a second child and was returning to work. She reached out to Maher and asked her to design and deliver training for a company, which the two successfully did. “Afterward the managing director said, ‘We need you guys,’ and offered us a retainer,” Maher recalls. “We still have that client.”
Since then, the company has taken on dozens of clients from many different industries, including financial, healthcare, scientific, and information technologies. “We do a lot of work with federal and state government agencies, colleges, and universities,” notes Maher.
Grannis, who is also Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Leading Edge, is still located in Minnesota, and the company has a lot of clients in that state, including Fortune 500 companies, Maher explained. Leading Edge is also currently working with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development as well as Aetna. “I would love to have more local business,” Maher notes.
Leading Edge markets by speaking at conferences. “We get new business every week,” says Maher.
Maher is currently working on a part-memoir book, Will You Be My Bestie? The book is about workplace engagement and creating a workplace where relationships thrive. “When you write a book as a speaker it opens up new opportunities,” she says. Maher hopes to have her book completed by the end of 2016.
Leading Edge offers leadership coaching, training, consulting, and workshops—both live and online.
Maher and Grannis have a different but very effective way of coaching and training. “We don’t use PowerPoint and our sessions are very interactive,” explains Maher.
“Everyone has a unique learning experience, and humor works with any audience. It makes the whole space really comfortable,” she says.
“Our brains are more receptive to learning when there is humor involved,” she adds. “Our strategies work. When people laugh, the magic happens.”
Another thing that makes Leading Edge unique is that the company is teaching people how to be “fully engaged,” explains Maher. “We’re helping people’s whole lives by raising up the level of people’s happiness.”
Attendees take away so much from their training experience, she notes. “Adult learners want to share their own experiences and how they can apply what they have learned with their colleagues.”
Maher stresses that, “workplace resonance is contagious, but dissonance is also contagious.” She also emphasizes the importance of showing love in the workplace. “We need more of that now than ever.”
A GOOD PARTNERSHIP
“The best business partner has different strengths,” notes Maher. “Carol loves talking to people, so she is more involved with sales and relationship building.”
As master training designer for Leading Edge, Maher’s work involves creating programs, designing handouts, and developing online learning modules that include video clips and interactive quizzes.
Maher shared an example of an online course. Use the menu on the top left to take the pre-quiz or jump straight into the video course:
Learn more about Leading Edge Coaching & Development at leadingedgecoaches.com.