In his role as my executive coach over a number of years, Dennis has provided me with much-needed counsel in the complex business of leading a non-profit organization. I have valued deeply his insights into countless personnel and administrative issues, and he always manages to deliver his no-nonsense advice with a sprinkling of humor that keeps everything in perspective. Time and again over the past five years, when I’ve been faced with one administrative dilemma or another, I have found myself saying to myself – or even out loud to colleagues – “Now here’s what Dennis would say about this situation…”
– Executive Director
Dennis developed and facilitated a sales training program that perfectly matched our customer care culture. It is called Selling With Respect. He carefully combined instruction, work group discussions and hands-on practice for our lending staff participants to help them understand and embrace this selling approach. The program yielded excellent results. Our staff now have a consistent method of engaging our customers and prospects, using skills and techniques to better understand them and have them become a part of the discussion and the solution. This sales culture is now being carried across our entire organization. It provides the quality of relationships that we want with our customers, and the sales results to help achieve our budget.
– Director of Marketing and Sales
It’s always challenging to find a good speaker who can quickly relate and understand our corporate culture and customer service philosophy. Dennis traveled across our entire district and did an exceptional job of delivering a highly personalized training experience to our sales staff in four states. We really appreciated Dennis’ experience. The ideas he conveyed complimented our customer relationship focus very well and received great reviews from staff. The following highlights some of the comments we received on our training surveys:
- The whole section on critical conversations with Dennis was very useful. I found the time with Dennis very helpful and interesting.
- Dennis did a great job presenting his information and the topics discussed could be applied to everyday interactions with customers and co workers.
- I really enjoyed listening to Dennis for several reasons. I wasn’t expecting a speaker like him and it was great to hear him speak about emotions, communications, and the reality that what we say and what people hear may not be the same. We should have a speaker like him at least annually.
- I enjoyed how Dennis was involved during Day 2 on the case studies. It was nice to role play and apply what we learned the previous day. He seemed to be a great fit for us and would welcome him back.
- Dennis was well prepared and added a nice touch to the analytical side of our business and employees. He did a great job.
- Dennis did a great job! I appreciated the questioning and communication suggestions. It was great. I hope people will go home and really try to apply those principles.
– Director of Training
Dennis worked with Farm Credit Services of Mid America in 2009 to help loan officers, credit staff and organizational leaders understand the impact of what a possible looming credit crisis might have on both the customer and themselves. Dennis provided training for 500 + employees which included loan officers, credit staff, RVPs and central office leaders. The goal of the training was two-fold: to help loan officers and credit staff understand how to deal with the impact of stress on their customers due to the possible economic decline of their businesses and how to keep that stress from impacting the performance of their jobs and their relationships with each other.
Feedback remarks and training evaluation responses from leaders, loan officers and credit staff were unanimous: this training was one of the best that our organization had provided them and they felt that they had received skills that they could actually use within their roles not only during adverse times but for the good times as well. Because each training group was a mixture of leaders, loan officers and credit staff, Dennis helped guide the conversations and training exercises in such a way that each group was better able to understand the stresses of each job role and how important collegiality is for our organization.
– VP Training and Development
Dennis has been a tremendous help to me professionally, especially during a transition to greater responsibilities in our company, eventually becoming the president. Dennis’ coaching was critical in causing me to think more strategically, focusing on building trust and respect with my colleagues and clients. As a result of his coaching, I became engaged with my employees and other management, resulting in a cohesive team with increased synergies and effectiveness.
Even though I had significant experience and training in leadership prior to receiving coaching from Dennis, my coaching experience with him greatly improved my effectiveness. He was able to analyze specific leadership situations with me and challenge me to think through them in a structured way. We role played how interactions with employees might take place and what impact my discussions might have on the employee’s thinking. Dennis always followed up with me to see what the results were and to plan next steps. It was this type of focus and follow through that developed my leadership skills to a great degree. Coaching with Dennis greatly developed my effectiveness as a leader.
– Senior Executive
Our company engaged Dennis Morris to work with a group of highly skilled professional employees to improve the team’s interactions, which had deteriorated along with its performance. The team was critical to the mission of the organization and the internal conflict seemed beyond resolution. Over the course of several weeks, Dennis rebuilt the group into a high performance team, exceeding the expectation of our company. Years later, this team of employees continues to add value to our organization. As Vice-President of Employee Relations, I have hired many consultants. Dennis Morris has consistently produced the best results.
– VP Employee Relations
As the Continuous Improvement Team Manager in a Fortune 500 company I had the opportunity to work with Dennis. Dennis worked with senior leaders and middle managers in our manufacturing facilities nationwide. The leaders managed a total of 3,000 employees. He taught our team how to become empowered leaders who constructively confront performance problems, communicate effectively, think strategically, manage conflicts and hold associates and themselves accountable. The training process immensely enhanced the teamwork throughout the team and strengthened trust throughout the organization. Most of the leaders said this was the most effective training process they had experienced. They learned “real tools and skills” that they could apply on a daily basis to help them successfully lead their teams.
– Continuous Improvement Manager
I meant to email you and I am finally getting to it. Your seminar here in Geneva was one of the top two I have ever been to. I was with ITT Commercial Finance in the late 80’s -1997, traveling the country on business & attending training sessions all over the country. That seminar was also fun. I love your style. It kept me interested. I usually hate being in front of the room, but with your style, I actually enjoyed it, & learned a great deal. This by far, blows away any other training Farm Credit has had over the years.
– Executive Loan Officer
We had a number of problems in our department that affected our morale and our performance. Our staff didn’t trust one another, we didn’t communicate, we blamed each other for any problems, and were embroiled in personality conflicts. Some of us hadn’t talked to one another for over a year. When Dennis first started coaching me I wasn’t sure he could help me change my behaviors that were creating some of the problems. The more I worked with him the more I realized he was my advocate and a trusted ally and that he had the skills to help me see how I was contributing to the interpersonal tensions in our department. And more importantly, he helped me develop new skills to communicate effectively, to develop respectful relationships, to interact without intimidating co-workers, and to work through the typical day-to-day differences without allowing every disagreement to deteriorate into a battle. Over the next couple of months he coached our staff and helped us build trust with one other, resolve our differences constructively, begin working as a real team, and significantly improve our performance and customer service. Through our work with Dennis our department became known as a team of high performing professionals that our organization can rely on.
– IT Manager
At my past two employers we have engaged Dennis Morris for executive coaching and team building. In the first case, Dennis was asked to coach each member of the senior leadership team individually and collectively. Personally Dennis was a great help in overcoming some of the communication barriers I had with other team members and staff. While working with the team Dennis helped a very inexperienced leadership group develop into a team that not only functioned well as a team but also worked together to execute the organization’s strategic plan. At the second employer Dennis was asked to help a highly visible staff member develop a more professional manner. The results have been dramatic; a complete turnaround for this employee. Dennis’s straight-forward approach is refreshing and very effective in coaching employees on how to operate most effectively. Dennis gets my highest recommendation.
I collaborated with Dennis on a very challenging consulting project that has multiple families and complex behavioral issues. During our briefing, Dennis was able to accurately track all the participants, their stories, and their interactions without any slippage around the critical facts. It is rare to find a professional with such great listening skills. Following the historical discussion, Dennis was able to share specific, professional feedback and designed an approach to move the families forward. As a result of his unique ability and the value he brings to our work, our firm has since formalized our relationship and plans to use him as a trusted resource for complex projects in the future.
– Family Business Consultant
Our organization was experiencing interpersonal conflict between staff members in select professional areas that went beyond “routine” human resources intervention. Termination and replacement was not a desired option, but rather a deeper dive into the root cause of the conflicts. Dennis was able to not only identify the causes, but also help the individuals create actionable strategies to improve performance and interactions with peers. Through his efforts and skills, Dennis helped to make a real and sustained change within our organization. I believe the individuals he coached would agree the process was direct yet positive, encouraging, and a long-term benefit to them personally and professionally. I would recommend Dennis Morris to any organization seeking to make a real difference in building a highly productive team.
Dennis worked with me to resolve a persistent challenge with an underperforming employee whose behavior was having a demoralizing effect on the rest of our team. Despite repeated interventions with this individual, nothing seemed to be effective in terms of getting her to take ownership of her actions and work performance. Through my work with Dennis, I first of all developed a better understanding of my leadership style and where the “disconnect” was with this person. I also gained more confidence as a manager, and Dennis helped me develop the right approach and specific language to use with my “underperformer.” The result was that she was no longer able blame others for her lack of results, and I was able to resolve my frustrations. Working with Dennis helped me grow as a professional and as a leader. I have a clearer understanding of how my style impacts all the different members of my team, and can now try to adapt my style when needed.
The Chair Leadership program is essential for any new leaders with no previous leadership training. Dennis Morris helped me to build respectful, trusting relationships and effective communication within my department, and to lead with my principles. He taught me the importance of encouragement, support, and appreciation of the accomplishments of my colleagues. I am also practicing what I learned about how to approach problem solving by involving and actively listening to all stakeholders, understanding and analyzing their concerns, and effectively constructing arguments to reach solutions. Working with other new chairs in the program promoted shared learning. We all came with different personalities, strengths, and problems and Dennis Morris guided our explorations of this diversity to strengthen all of our leadership skills and tools. He is a master at teaching by example, promoting skill-building, and empowering new chairs to lead with effectiveness and integrity.
Professor and Chair of Anthropology
I’m grateful for the Chair Leadership Project because leadership training is not usually part of the process of earning a PhD or working as a faculty member. It’s unfortunate that chairs are typically offered a position without the benefit of leadership training. I entered my leadership position thinking how I could encourage people to make contributions based on their strengths, but the Chair Leadership Project broadened how I think about leading and motivating people. With the training I have received, I now work to press and inspire faculty and staff to move beyond their strengths, challenge themselves, and grow as individuals.
The Chair Leadership Project provided me with new insights into leadership and strategies to bring meaningful change to the organization I’ve been asked to lead. Each week we discussed the real-time challenges we faced on the job. Learning about the issues faced by other chairs and working together to develop strategies built trust among our group members and provided me with insights into my personal leadership skills. I learned a great deal about my job, my peers, and about myself.
As a facilitator Dennis succeeds in building a team among a diverse group of Chairs from varied disciplines. He’s an excellent facilitator who encourages contributions from individuals with different experiences, qualities, perspectives, and skill sets. Thoughtful and perceptive, Dennis knows how to bring out the best in participants and involve everyone in the learning process. He has the rare ability to bring to bear his experiences in the corporate world on the challenges faced by academic administrators. It’s very unusual to work with an Executive Coach and facilitator who has knowledge of both of these worlds. Working with Dennis as an Executive Coach was invaluable in helping me to understand and fulfill the responsibilities of my new leadership position.
Interim Faculty Director
When I first met Dennis Morris as my Executive Coach I thought this was going to be about changing the faculty. But now I realize this is really about changing myself ― how I communicate, collaborate to resolve differences and lead the department. It’s more about looking at myself and learning what I can do differently, which isn’t what I expected. But it’s working. I’m seeing improvements in the department, and that’s all due to what I’m doing differently.
Associate Professor and Chair of Linguistics and Cognitive Science
The Chair Leadership Project was a very positive experience. I came into this position thinking, ‘I am alone, I’m not sure how to do this, I’m not supposed to do all the work myself, I don’t have all the answers. How do I get people to look at these issue and collaborate toward a resolution?’ After participating in this program I gained the confidence that I needed. The program also helped me to understand that the other Chairs were undergoing what I was going through.
The time commitment to the program was significant and in the end I realized that this program saved me and others lots of time.
In our group modules Dennis fostered a closeness amongst the group and provided a nurturing environment where I was able to share. The totality of the program was effective. I am better able to flow and be positive, appreciative and have a better understanding of where my colleagues, staff and students are coming from. I can recognize that so much better now.
Professor, Chair of Computer & Information Sciences
I participated in the Chair Leadership Project. What Dennis helped me solve was in essence a process, a process of interacting with faculty and staff. One example that helped me invaluably was how to deal with a difficult person. Dennis was very good at keeping things open and helping us understand how to start a difficult discussion with empathy and a positive perspective of the other person.
I learned how to communicate with assertive empathy and discovered how that approach effectively diffuses tension while helping everyone involved.
The module on leading the change enriched my understanding of mapping out and defining principles that are important to me and showed me how to maintain those principles at the forefront when negotiating resources.
Changing a culture and addressing course sequences that carry lots of inertia are particularly difficult. This program helped me to gain the confidence to lead change and chart a course of action that is beneficial for the students and the department. The group modules were was helpful and gave me and the other Chairs an opportunity to exchange ideas and share the pain of what we were all experiencing as leaders. As a result of the program I am more actively involved in carving out time to get to know my colleagues and to develop and build trusting relationships.
Professor and Chair of Physics and Astronomy
I am a huge fan of the Chair Leadership Project! This program helped me on a variety of levels as an administrator. From a leadership standpoint the program’s specific techniques helped me to better deal with crisis situations as they emerge. As professors, we are focused on teaching and research and aren’t trained in interpersonal relations and this program expanded my vision of decision making where people are part of the process. This made it more enjoyable and it has given me a sense of accomplishment to impart long term change.
Associate Professor and Interim Chair Women and Gender Studies
This was a seven module program on Leadership for the Chairs and I would recommend Dennis Morris as a facilitator if you are in a leadership position or will be in the future. Dennis is effective in that his modules are applicable to everyday life, immediately. I learned a lot about being respectful, gaining trust and how to be empathetic.
Faculty Fellow for Undergraduate Enrichment
The Chair Leadership Project was pragmatic and not based on lofty ideals that don’t relate to real academic leadership issues. The program had a direct and positive impact on leading my department.
The group modules were effective because Dennis Morris is great at facilitating and creating trust and openness. Dennis is empathetic and open and this allowed for a safe learning environment.
The one-to-one Executive Coaching was targeted on specific leadership issues in our departments. It gave me an opportunity to discuss issues, get feedback on my communication and leadership interactions, develop solutions to difficult situations apply them and then debrief. Through the program I gained more confidence and became a more effective as a leader.
The role playing activities in the group modules allowed me to focus on my leadership skills and provided me with techniques to lead complex or difficult conversations more effectively.
Professor and Chair of Music History and Literature
Dennis Morris is a very good facilitator and teacher. The program provided meaningful, applicable and relevant information. The program format allowed the cohort to talk communally about our leadership problems and get to know and trust each other.
The topics of empathy and coping with change were important to me. I learned how to look beyond the obvious and it encouraged me to get to know the story of the person I am dealing without casting judgment. The modules provided information that allowed peers to dissect problems in depth.
I found Dennis to be very encouraging while not lecturing. The program was extremely useful for the fundamentals of administration as they apply across the board. He helped us look at how to deal with and package change within an organization.
The program modules coupled with the specific techniques helped us all to see that people must be willing and positive about receiving change and not as an administrative directive. It’s all relational if the unit gets better, all get better!
Interim Chair of Black American Studies