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Your Leadership Identity: Do You Respond Like a Leader

logo_block-FINThink for a moment about how you respond to what’s happening around you. Many times you probably don’t give a conscious thought to your responses. There’s a difference between reaction (unconscious) and response (thoughtful and conscious). When we move from reaction to response, it indicates a shift in our mindset around what it means to lead.

Our Founder and CEO Amy Franko shares three ways your responses can communicate the wrong leadership message. Read the full article on the Talent Development blog.

This article is the fourth in Amy’s series on creating leadership identity. You can also read about building a personal brand,leading through your actions, and leading through your visual and verbal presence.

Leading Through Visual and Verbal Presence

logo_block-FINDo you dress the part of a leader and professional? What does your physical presence exude? In addition, do you treat every communication, spoken or written, as an opportunity to showcase how well you organize your thoughts and articulate yourself? Do you sound like a leader?
In this guest post on, Amy Franko delves into the impact you make through your visual and verbal presence.

Read more.

Creating Social Capital: A Formula for Success

Building relationships is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak before the Women Lawyers of Franklin County and help them kick off their new program year. They asked me to share insights on creating social capital. Attorneys, like many of us professionals, are conditioned to focus on the value brought to an organization by physical assets and financial capital – that’s what’s on a P&L, right? But one often-missing element is social capital; while you won’t find it on a balance sheet, it’s every bit as critical to organizational and individual success.

What is social capital? According to, “the central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all ‘social networks’ [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [‘norms of reciprocity’].”

Organizations and individuals that “get it” when it comes to social capital know that the underlying value within that organization comes from the power of people and relationships.

First: The Three Rs

Before we delve more into improving your social capital, let’s think about the three R’s. The three R’s represent what we build throughout out our life, personally and professionally, and we take them everywhere we go:


These tenets help you to make a difference in the world around you, and to make a difference for yourself.

But they don’t exist on their own—they are interdependent. Take a look at this image.


If you remove any of the stones, the whole structure will fall apart. The same goes for your reputation, results, and relationships.

When we focus on building strategic relationships, it will help forge a strong reputation, driving results personally and in our business. That’s where social capital comes into play, paying attention to the human side. The concept is getting more attention, because the people and organizations that “get” this are also among the highest performing. Organizations (and leaders) who value social capital do a couple of things well.
– Treat relationships purposefully
– Build strong internal and external relationships

Basically, they believe that social networks have value and create benefits—positive financial and organizational results. Social networks also bind us to one another in ways that elevate engagement, and bring us so much more joy and satisfaction to our work than without them.

So what’s holding us back from building our own social capital? We tend to make lots of excuses. For some of us it’s time (or lack there of). Many others suffer from “imposter syndrome” (“Someday, somebody’s going to realize I don’t know what I’m talking about!” But you do!) And of course it’s tough to step out of our comfort zone or to seek help in reaching a personal or professional goal.

Formula for Success

To help you get started, I encourage you to think about building relationships using this simple formula for success:

It comes down to putting twice the effort into the giving piece (creating and sustaining) of building relationships, then leveraging the relationships when you need them. I liken it to a healthy bank account. Efforts to create and sustain relationships are your investments. They grow and earn interest over time, and those investments require consistency. From time to time you withdraw from the account when needed. That’s the leverage – asking for what you need or coming together for a greater cause.

It’s healthy to invest and leverage, and the stronger your investments, the stronger the leverage. But we don’t want to overdraw. We need to invest more and give more than we’re leveraging. That’s one key to eliminating our fears around taking advantage of people or fear of rejection. The more we build the habit of giving and adding genuine value, the more we can leverage, or ask for what we need. That creates strong and healthy strategic relationships.

Consider your own relationships. Ask yourself… am I giving in a way that’s meaningful and healthy? Is it equal? How can I be helpful? If you put in the effort in advance, then when the time comes, it’s easier to make the ask for help.

For more information on each piece of the formula for successful relationships, contact me for details on how you can bring the social capital presentation to your organization.

3 Strategies for Living Each Day Creating Impact and Influence

Conversations about impact and legacy often come later in life as we look back at what we’ve accomplished and contributed. Instead, what if we looked forward and consciously designed our path of impact and influence?

Check out Amy Franko’s strategies in this article on the Switch and Shift blog.

Read more.

Leading Through Visual and Verbal Presence

Do you dress the part of a leader and professional? What does your physical presence exude? In addition, do you treat every communication, spoken or written, as an opportunity to showcase how well you organize your thoughts and articulate yourself? Do you sound like a leader?

In this article on the Association for Talent Management blog, Amy Franko delves into the impact you make through your visual and verbal presence.

Read more.

This post is the third in a series on creating leadership identity.

Leading Through Your Actions

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Indeed, your actions, or self-initiated behaviors, speak to your level of assertiveness, decisiveness, and confidence—all traits of a strong, effective leader.

Your job in enhancing your leadership identity is to elevate your awareness of your actions with colleagues, direct reports, and the CEO. What are your actions saying about you? Are they saying you have confidence and strong leadership abilities, or are they saying you aren’t quite ready for the next level in your leadership journey?

In this article on by Amy Franko, take a few minutes to assess yourself, and consider how these five strategies can help you elevate your leadership identity. This article is the second post in a series on creating leadership identity.

Read more.

Inside the Mind of the CEO: 7 Tips for Accelerating Your Path to the C-Suite

HiResBy Amy Franko

We see their pictures in the media, and we hear them make speeches before shareholders and stakeholders. But how well do you know your CEO? Have you ever wondered what’s going on in his or her mind?

With all that they’re responsible for, you’re probably not surprised to learn that a CEO’s mind is a busy place.

About 100 Central Ohio executives were given a sneak peek into the experiences and insights of four of the area’s most admired leaders at a recent panel discussion, hosted by the Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD). I was honored to serve as moderator of the panel, which included John Ammendola, President and CEO, Grange Insurance; Kim Jacobs, Chief of Police, City of Columbus; Elaine Roberts, A.A.E., President & CEO, Columbus Regional Airport Authority; and Teresa A. Sherald, President & CEO, Diversity Search Group.

Throughout our fascinating and entertaining 90-minute discussion, we delved into several topics– from navigating the shift to CEO, to building a team and making tough calls, to transforming organizational culture. As I reflect back on the conversation , I can summarize it into seven key takeaways. Whether you’re already in the C-suite or are striving to get there, these tips can help you become a better leader today.

  • You’ve got to want it. CEOs must have a deep internal desire to be in the lead role, in both good times and tough times. As you consider your executive career path, reflect on your level of true desire to lead and willingness for complete accountability at this level. One CEO expressed it as having a “buck stops here” mentality. Are you willing to take on that responsibility?
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T. If you haven’t earned respect before you’re the CEO, it’s probably too late. Start now by focusing on being collaborative and understanding the importance of your stakeholders. And as one of the panelists reminded us, “you can be successful as long as you don’t care who gets the credit.”
  • Decisions, decisions. Be strategic in your decision making. Never make a decision unless you can look everyone in the eye and explain your thought process behind it. As Malcolm Gladwell said, “Truly successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” Make sure you make decisions for the right reasons.
  • Mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you. Everyone makes mistakes. Acknowledge and own yours. Fix them effectively. But then move on. CEOs can’t waste time lingering in the past. Another benefit of acknowledging mistakes: when leaders do this, it gives their teams permission to acknowledge their mistakes, too.
  • Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s a valuable leadership trait. A sense of continuous curiosity will help propel you and your organization forward. The panelists encouraged us to ask the “why.” Get out of your office, and walk around. Talk to others. You’ll find out answers you didn’t know, and have a better understanding of the operation.
  • Change is ahead. Every leader must be a change agent. As the saying goes, “change is difficult, but not changing is fatal.” It’s a leader’s job to invoke and provoke trends. Create a vision for your organization to survive and thrive over the long term. Then inspire your team to pull in the same direction with the same purpose.
  • Step into some discomfort for the greater good. One final tip is especially for leaders who are women or part of a minority group. We need to seek out leadership roles (like board seats for example) where we may be the only representative of our gender or group, so that others can begin to see this leadership path for themselves. To demonstrate that diversity is valuable, show up at meetings and share your thoughts. Also, be sure to be a matchmaker and connect people who are good matches for board and executive seats.

This list encompasses my favorite insights, but of course there were many others. If you attended, what resonated with you? What would you add to the list?

For related content, view my previous post, 10 strategies from the CEO suite.

Building a Leadership Identity for a Personal Brand

logo_block-FINYour workday is likely consumed with leading your team and delivering results for your organization. But what about you? How much time do you think about your future goals and leadership identity?

Impact Instruction Group’s Founder and CEO, Amy Franko, takes a look at the topic of building a leadership identity in the Association for Talent Development Human Capital Blog. The first article in the series outlines steps for defining a leadership identity and personal brand.


Spotlight on Tech Trends in Insurance

logoEarlier this year, Impact Instruction Group surveyed training industry leaders and professionals nationwide for our third annual Learning and Development Technology Trends Report. It’s always fascinating to see how learning and development organizations are putting technology to use.

This summer, we had an opportunity to take our research one step further. Our friends at the Society of Insurance Trainers and Educators (SITE) allowed us to follow up with a companion survey targeted to their members to see where the Insurance sector mirrors, as well as differs from, the national trends.

Here’s what we found.

Technology Investment

With our general survey, eLearning is still on the top of the list, with 85% of organizations planning to have eLearning as part of their overall portfolio. Webinars a

nd video are also strong contenders, and organizations have become conditioned to having these delivery methods in their portfolios. For SITE members, the webinar platform is very prevalent with over 80 percent of SITE organizations investing in webinar-based learning. Interestingly, video is a medium that is often ranked right behind instructor-led environments when it comes to personal engagement or connection. With SITE members we see an opportunity to increase the use of video, because only a little over 50 percent of the respondents are making investments there.

Leadership Support

Leadership support for technology-based solutions in learning and development is growing, either steadily or rapidly, and our SITE survey mirrors what we’re seeing in the general population. In both, nearly 60 percent of respondents say that leadership’s support is steadily increasing. One key point is that organizations are increasingly selective with the investments being made in learning initiatives. So while they have leadership support, it’s also critical that learning practitioners are able to connect the investment in technology-based initiatives to company goals, and demonstrate return on investment. 

Mobile Learning Adoption

There is room for growth here. 44 percent of the organizations we surveyed in our general survey have mobile devices in their organizations, but no learning strategy. 61.6 percent of SITE organizations surveyed are still in the exploratory stages of mobile learning, or have no significant plans in 2015 for mobile learning. We urge organizations to have a mobile learning strategy, especially organizations with distributed populations. That strategy needs to account for business outcomes, audience needs, appropriate content for mobile delivery, design approaches, development tools, and implementation/ongoing maintenance.

Mobile learning Adoption – Staffing

Of those SITE members planning for mobile learning, 40 percent are planning to train their current staff to address mobile learning trends. Similarly, 35 percent of our general organizations surveyed plan to train current staff. That tells us the SITE member companies recognize there is a specific skills set for the mobile learning environment, and that organizations will invest in making sure their people are ready for design and development on mobile.

Social Learning

Both SITE and general survey respondents were evenly split on the topic of Enterprise Social Networks. With SITE respondents, 52 percent have enterprise social networks, and 48% are without. This is an area for growth. By incorporating ESNs, businesses can capture more organizational knowledge that they may not otherwise have access to; cultivate more collaboration and relationship building among teams, especially in virtual environments; identify internal SMEs who are contributing value to the organization; and access usage data that will allow them to improve learning offerings. Enterprise social networks are expected to be a $2.7B industry by 2017.

Tin Can API

The Tin Can API continues to establish itself as the next generation of data gathering in learning technology. You can think of it as the modernization of SCORM, but we have some work to do in this area. In both the general survey and the SITE-specific survey, the highest percentage of respondents indicated that they had no plans to use it or had never heard of it. In fact, nearly 60 percent of SITE respondents hadn’t heard of Tin Can API.

We invite you to see the results of the full survey in the Impact Instruction Group 2015 Learning and Development Technology Trends Report. Just click on the blue subscribe button on the top right of this page for instant access.

And if you’re an Insurance industry executive interested in the details of the SITE member research, email us and use “SITE Webinar” in the subject line. We’ll be able to provide you with a link to the on-demand recording.

Looking for more SITE info? Check out our five learnings SITE Conference.

Columbus Women to Know

By Amy Franko

There’s a saying that you should surround yourself with people who will lift you higher.

As a practitioner in the area of leadership development, I couldn’t agree more. And as a woman business owner in the Columbus Region, I’m grateful to be surrounded by some of the smartest, strongest women leaders around. I’ve befriended many of them through the Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) and NAWBO Columbus—two fantastic membership groups – as well as through my role on the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland. Learning from these women has helped me become a better business owner, and a stronger leader myself.

Recently, Business First of Columbus published its list of “Central Ohio’s Influential Women to Know for 2015.” Powerhouse is the first word that came to mind! Many of honorees are women I’m proud to know: Catherine Lang-Cline, Kristen Harris, Darla King, and Joelle Brock. Like Business First says, they are “dynamic women who are shaping Central Ohio’s business community – whether by launching companies or rising high in the ranks of the corporate world.” They are also leaders who are making an impact in the community and helping to lift  up those around them. You can view the article and see all 22 profiles here. Congratulations to each of the women on this recognition.

What about you? Are you surrounded by people who will lift you higher?

If you’re looking for ways to build your own network, I invite you to download our e-book: 35 Tips to Build Lasting Strategic Relationships. It’s about learning from others and knowing how to connect with people. It’s about knowing how to ask for things that you need and having a mentor to guide you.

And contact us if we can help you implement our Strategic Leadership Excellence for Women program at your organization.