Nashville, TN – Over 35 attendees who are currently in a leadership role or an up-and-coming leader, joined together at The Unified Group’s Leadership Forum from May 5th through May 8th. The conference took place at the Hyatt Centric Downtown Nashville. 

 “The most important things I learned were that we lead people but manage things. There is a time and place for leading with power, but there is also a large need to lead with influence. We need to meet people on their level, direct conversations in a useful manner, and understand that what motivates me is not always what motivates other people,” said Katie Cullum of Cullum Services, Inc. (North Charleston, SC).

The first half of day one of the Forum was led by Craig Woodall from Grinnell Leadership. Craig brings over 25 years of experience leading teams, projects, organizations and individuals. With a background in engineering, project management, construction management and operations management, he brings a wealth of knowledge from the industry.  

 Craig commenced his presentation by delving into the concept of leading through influence rather than power. Stressing the significance of positively influencing others, he introduced an engaging group activity—a scavenger hunt. In this exercise, each team of six participants ventured out around the town to locate a specific item assigned to them. The victorious team, tasked with finding a food mixer, was awarded $100 to donate and make an impact on the most people possible. The objective of this exercise was to demonstrate the ability to influence community members to entrust their belongings temporarily, without resorting to bribery. Craig underscored the importance of adapting our leadership approach to suit the individuals we lead and discerning how our actions are perceived. A crucial aspect of fostering trust is recognizing that authenticity cannot be achieved merely by fulfilling a requirement.

During the latter part of our first day, we were honored to have Randy Nemchin as our guest speaker. Randy is President / ICF Executive Coach of Radical Guidance Consulting and works with clients to improve company, team, and individual productivity. 

 Randy enlightened attendees on various strategies for establishing and upholding alignment and accountability within their teams. Randy educated us on the four foundational pillars of alignment: trust, values, accountability, and communication. Assessing whether a team is aligned involves observing behaviors, adhering to core values, and gauging feedback from customers regarding the company's performance. Do the values align with how a company wants to identify? Do the employees believe in the values? Without alignment, people will do what they want. Randy had each table work together on illustrating what it means to be ‘aligned’ and share the reasoning. Examples provided encompassed a rowing boat where each member was perfectly aligned in their rowing stroke and a harmonious musical orchestra.

  “Be in the present. Be aware of your trust bank. Trust is all about character, competency, and the art of letting go. Work-life balance is not possible, but work-life integration is,” said Gary Myers of Intech Mechanical (Roseville, CA).  

On the second day of our meetings, Randy delved into the concept of work-life integration. Work-life integration is the practice of allowing employees to coordinate their personal and professional lives in a complementary way and fulfilling both sets of responsibilities. He introduced a self-assessment aimed at prompting reflection on our individual motivations and identifying areas requiring improvement for a more balanced life. This involved setting personalized goals to guide our investments of time and energy into various aspects of our lives. He emphasized that in doing so, it can result in greater productivity, job satisfaction and employee engagement. 

 Following Randy’s half of the day, Craig then initiated an activity in which attendees communicated with a partner through text, and then with a phone call to draw a photo from their partner’s instructions. This taught everyone to understand that things get lost in translation over the phone or via email; meeting someone at their level, face-to-face, is better. This highlighted the discussion on communication and listening skills, and how a message is perceived. Two significant lessons gleaned from this activity: the importance of thoughtful word choice before speaking and the practice of exercising patience. 

During our final day of meetings, Rick Chowdry, President of Intech Mechanical, shared his journey of accidental success. Intech Mechanical's humble beginnings stemmed from Rick's garage, expanding to a small second shop, and eventually flourished into a fully functional HVAC mechanical contractor. He elaborated on the company's evolution and the hurdles he encountered. Rick highlighted a significant challenge: assuming that others would operate as he did. He emphasized the importance of follow-up and accountability, lessons learned from this experience. 

The Leadership Forum served as a prime occasion for leaders to convene, exchange ideas, establish workflows, foster connections, and leave with a newfound sense of empowerment, poised to elevate their success even further. 

Upcoming Forums include Financial, Construction and our Annual Meeting and Owners’ Forum! If you are interested in learning more about attending a meeting or becoming a member of The Unified Group, contact Janet Kelleher at