About Leath Group
Who are we, and what do we do?
Hmmm, these are tough questions, aren’t they?
The sort that many of us have wrestled with since childhood, along with why do I exist and what’s the meaning of life?
Today, my wife just chuckles and curiously awaits my awkward soft-shoe whenever someone corners me in an unfamiliar setting and inquires, “So, what sort of work do you do, Blake?” It’s a funny question, mostly because the truthful answer—“A little bit of this and that”—is entirely honest while sounding dodgy and ultimately proving wholly unhelpful.
Two decades ago, I answered “curriculum design.” A few years later, the answers became “corporate training” or “facilitation” or “coaching.” And eventually, “some public speaking.”
For a while there (typically just to echo what folks seemed to be interpreting when I had answered), I’d agree and say, “Yes, right, management consulting.” But then I realized how much writing Leath Group was doing, and the answer didn’t feel as accurate as before. Over a period of five short years, nearly half our work had become writing. Ghostwriting, to be precise, but eventually all manner of writing: annual reports, research papers, merger and acquisition documents, scripts, storyboards, technical manuals, quips and blurbs for investor relations types, even cartoons that instructed how to use homegrown software. Before long, clients asked, “Could you do our corporate communications?” And then their press releases, public relations, and identity management, including brand and logo development, and the accompanying legal protections that intellectual property deserves.
We ultimately found ourselves delivering all manner of creative work product, from corporate training videos and websites to talking points for, say, developers constructing a toll road or bridge that promised to bring hospitals, schools, commerce, and communities to what was, heretofore, a dying island in the middle of nowhere.
Today, there appear to be no limits to what we might do. Needs are everywhere. Creativity is endless. The world is huge, and culture as abundant as grains of sand on a horizonless beach. Organizational work is a thick, rich tapestry comprised of seemingly infinite threads and colors. It has no beginning or end. To say that we are “trainers” or “writers” or “marketers” or “designers” or “social engineers” places artificial boundaries on work that knows no bounds.
In the course of one fun and eclectic quarter, we may find ourselves recruiting on behalf of a client (conducting their pre-screening interviews), writing copy for a website, illustrating an animated opening sequence for a film, validating a behaviorally-anchored custom 360° instrument, designing a compensation system or organizational university, evaluating the programmatic efficacy of some third party’s curriculum in order to calculate a client’s ROI, facilitating a conference call with participants from three or four countries, applying make-up to an executive before the lights burn bright and the cameras roll, designing a tchotchke, an atomic-era movie poster, a comic book cover or 9’ long office desk, delivering a dozen training workshops describing strategy, customer service or leadership best practices, and providing an ergonomic & interior design plan for an engineering space where employees complain about the adverse effects of poor lighting, background noise, and limited privacy—each of which seems to have contributed, in part, to their highly stressful office environment and hemorrhaging turnover.
Broadly speaking, we are a confederation of more than sixty like-minded and active practitioners in fields ranging from organizational development/human resources and the human sciences to art, design, communications, marketing, and advertising. Our primary areas of focus remain, as they have for twenty-six consecutive years, Strategy, Culture, Leadership, Change, and Communication, each of which merits precise integration and purposefulness, lest the fate of an enterprise be left to chance. (If interested, you can read more about these five Pillars and our Ideologies below.)
Having said this, however, and admittedly drifting far from the shore upon a raft of too many words, I think the answer to both questions—“What is Leath Group, and what do you do?”—remains far-reaching and yet, to my way of thinking, revolves around creation and cultivation.
In a word, if it is too immodest to say that we are creators, I would be committing a crime of omission to deny that we are, indeed, gardeners. To call ourselves farmers is overreaching, of course, because working an entire field (an organization or company writ large) is only possible from the inside: day by day, meeting by meeting, hour by hour, interaction by interaction through employees and leaders and perhaps the Board who support them. Nearly every day of the year, however, we find ourselves standing in a greenhouse of sorts, designing or planting a few great seeds, cultivating them, nurturing them, helping them thrive and blossom and germinate and pollinate through the soil and the water and the air, eventually taking root everywhere and influencing the topography, health, performance, and vibrancy of a culture. We are possessed by this model, working strategically with a select number of people, processes, projects, or programs each year to improve their trajectory.
No matter our endeavor, the wind at Leath Group blows in this direction, every petal and stem feeds these roots, every drop and trickle flows toward creation and cultivation.
We feel called and are humbled to contribute; to encourage, educate, equip, and empower employees to become awesome, and to tell their stories well. In doing so, lofty as it seems, maybe we can do our small part in making the world a better and prettier place—where less is broken and more works.
It’s as simple as that.