Following a chance meeting during an online leadership program, a former Armstrong Flooring senior manager and a New York-based educator teamed up to build their own business leadership program that challenges clients to use the tools they already have.
Mark Boldizar and Johane Ligondé never met in person but spent the last few months building a three-month-long leadership program for small to mid-sized businesses.
The program, “Science of Self Mastery: Business Leadership Edition,” is a virtual class where participants assess their organization’s needs and work with Boldizar and Ligondé to see how they can accomplish those needs using what is available to them.
“Sometimes you’ll run into a client that says ‘you don’t know my business’ and that’s one of the signs where they are stuck in their paradigms,” said Boldizar. “Really, what we are trying to bring are simple measurements that apply to all industries. We bring a more general overarching approach and people ask how that will help them but it’s about boiling it down into the basics.”
Boldizar is a former manufacturing operations and research and development executive. He founded his consulting firm, Boldizar Consulting Services, in 2018. He held a number of roles ranging from principal scientist to plant manager at Armstrong World Industries and remained as a senior manager after Armstrong Flooring split with Armstrong World in 2016.
Ligondé is the principal for Freeport School District in Freeport, New York, and founder of Joyous Leader International, a consulting firm that teaches, trains and equips leaders with self-care and leadership skills.
Ligondé said that while she and Boldizar have different skills and levels of expertise, the two of them share a desire to give back and help smaller businesses have access to training.
In building out the program together, Ligondé said that she and Boldizar complemented one another because of their different perspectives.
“Mark works with formulas and I work more on the people aspect of it,” she said. “We talked through things but we had different responsibilities. We would share documents, text each other and talk through the different elements. That’s what makes our course and program so complete. Because of the level of attention that we gave to the details.”
The program’s focus on helping clients use the tools at their disposal is a response to the many times Boldizar’s clients have made statements like “If only I had more money,” or “If only I had the right people.”
“Why is it that you think there is this magical pool of outstanding employees waiting to come to your organization?” he asked. “Usually you have good people or the potential for good people. The framework to help people become self-aware and develop, that’s about coaching individuals to rise to their highest potential.”
For Ligondé and Boldizar, every issue brought to them through their program can be boiled down to a key problem that needs to be resolved through a comprehensive look at the business.
Ligondé said part of that comprehensive approach is cultural diversity training, but not the kind that many businesses already do. “We are talking about race, economic status, different ethnicities and perspectives that people bring to the table,” she said. “The foundation of the work we do is comprehensive and that cultural diversity training is part of it. If an organization comes to us and says this is what we need, we can show up and get fully engaged in that work.”
The program operates on a three month schedule, but clients are able to choose aspects of the program they would like to use if they don’t want all three months.
For businesses that do enroll in all three months, the program is split up into three parts titled game plan, scoreboard and winning.
After assessing what problems need to be tackled in the game plan phase, businesses work on how they will monitor their success in the scoreboard phase, something that Ligondé said was crucial to the program.
“It’s important for us to measure their success,” she said. “Part of that is always creating different ways to allow for progress. How do you measure improved collaboration or improved emotional intelligence?”
The final phase of the program is winning, where Ligondé and Boldizar argue that clients will have developed strengths and innovative solutions and increased profitability. When completing work meant to help a business see results, it’s all about taking action and pushing for retention of whatever is being taught through outside assignments and through accountability and audits of progress, Boldizar said.
“We can say here is what should work, but unless employees take ownership, the changes won’t happen,” he said. “I’ve worked in big companies and small companies. A lot of times in big corporations, when you talk about development, it turns into a performance review and they focus on what you aren’t good at and that doesn’t encourage change.”