Secret sauce in Twin Cities executive coach’s method? Goodness

Chady AlAhmar, CEO of the multi-state wealth management business of Old National Bank, is an engineer and numbers guy by background.

He said Paul Batz, a management coach he met years ago through Rotary, helped him understand that “goodness” — integrity, teamwork and empathy — are critical to sustained financial success.

“You succeed in business the right way,” AlAhmar said, who has led the Old National business for three years. “Doing something bigger than yourself and doing well for customers and employees.”

Old National is moving from a more transactional model to one built on long-term achievement for clients and employees. The wealth management team got help on strategic and technical matters from consulting firm McKinsey.

AlAhmar has tapped Batz’s Good Leadership firm to help the team with “the hearts and minds work.”

“Everybody can compete on technology, product and price,” AlAhmar said “I want to feel good about my purpose and doing the right thing. The advantage we focus on is satisfied, engaged and energized employees who care about clients. We needed some coaching on that.”

Batz quit a larger consulting firm during the 2008-09 recession to launch Good Leadership.

“I had two kids in college, in the middle of the recession, and I quit my job because it was time,” Batz recalled of those days. “We survived.”

And eventually, the firm started doing better.

Good Leadership, particularly through a transition to mostly virtual consulting services during COVID-19, grew revenue 50% from July 2020 through 2021.

“We learned we could be faster, cheaper and effective on Zoom and Teams,” Batz said. “We could touch more people, more often. More momentum. More follow-up. Less travel.”

Good Leadership now has 25 employees and independent-contractor coaches. Batz still serves as CEO and expects revenue this year of $4.5 million.

The company has hosted about 100 Good Leadership breakfasts since 2010. The last one, in November, drew 350 people and featured Bill George, the retired Medtronic CEO and Harvard Business School professor who talked about his “true north” ethical model.

The breakfasts also have raised $400,000 for charities, including matching contributions from Minnesota-manufacturer Handy Products Co.

Batz, 59, started at communications-firm Padilla nearly 40 years ago. Client relationships morphed into strategy and management areas with some clients.

“Nobody starts out being an executive coach,” Batz said. “Two-thirds of professional services are required by law; lawyers, accountants and engineers. We are executive coaches. And we decided most coaches don’t have a methodology.”

Batz fleshed out a fairly simple approach, partly working with U.S. Bancorp when it was led to record results by retired CEO Richard Davis. Davis wanted to develop a better employee culture after his predecessors concentrated on consolidations and cost-cutting. USB was known for a low expense rate and high turnover.

Batz’s team helped the bank develop a model that eventually became the basis for his Good Leadership game platform that can be customized for different clients.

Batz said Good Leadership only works with managers who want to improve themselves, culture and performance. His firm’s research, quantitative and anecdotal, proves “a culture of goodness in leadership improves financial results.”

The secret sauce starts with a business plan “that creates genuine employee engagement and followership,” he said.

Then the firm works with a client to focus on three top priorities, a “we is greater than me” approach with transparent decision making, leadership accountability and shared results — and fun. The flexible model has a personal focus on blending faith, family, finances, fitness, friends and future.

Good Leadership typically works with management groups for up to three years.

“Paul Batz made us better,” said Megan Remark, president of St. Paul-based Regions Hospital, a Health Partners business. “Health care is complicated, an emotionally connected team sport. Paul helped us move from individuals to a team.”

Remark said she’s a better person and manager now. “We try to be kind, direct and transparent.”

Darin Lynch, founder of software firm Irish Titan, said his work with Good Leadership allowed his company to stay “on the rails, and rolling down those rails at a faster pace.”

And encouraging fun.

“Goodness thrives in a culture of encouragement, accountability and positive teamwork,” Lynch said. “Fun for the sake of fun is nothing more than a party. When you encircle it with accountability, it enlivens the spirit towards achieving goals. The combination … has improved Irish Titan’s performance.”

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