1873 – Strategic Workforce Development with Dave Pennington

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the Founder & CEO of Penn Coaching & Consulting, Dave Pennington.

Pennington Wide

Dave Pennington emphasizes the critical role of focusing on individuals within organizations, observing that enabling employees to excel in their roles can catalyze significant growth across the entire company. He argues that leaders, often overwhelmed by their myriad responsibilities, can benefit from delegating tasks and leveraging the unique strengths of their team members. This approach not only mitigates the risk of leader burnout and inefficiency but also fosters a culture of empowerment that drives business success.

He advocates tailoring business strategies to the unique needs of each organization, sharing the example of a Canadian printing company bogged down by its owner's heavy involvement. By collaborating with Dr. Pennington to reorganize and strategically staff the company, the owner managed to reduce his workload substantially. This change not only revitalized the owner but also set the company on a path to future growth and increased its potential for sale.

Dr. Pennington introduces the metaphor of the ripple effect to describe the impact of leadership development and team building. He compares the process to a pebble thrown into a pond, where the initial impact generates expanding waves. Similarly, positioning the right people in a company can spark exponential growth and success, showcasing the profound influence of effective leadership and a cohesive team structure.

Dr. Pennington's dedication to facilitating business growth and development was evident. He provides an opportunity for a no-obligation consultation call, aiming to explore how his coaching services could meet the specific needs of their businesses. His commitment to offering support and inspiration stands as a guiding light for entrepreneurs navigating the challenges of business expansion.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Importance of focusing on people and helping them thrive within their roles
  • Challenges faced by leaders taking on multiple responsibilities
  • Delegating and focusing on individual strengths for business growth
  • Customizing business strategies to fit unique company needs
  • Restructuring and reorganizing for rejuvenation and growth
  • Ripple effect of leadership development and team building
  • Emphasis on providing guidance and encouragement for business growth

About Dave Pennington:

Dave Pennington is a distinguished figure with a multifaceted career that spans over three decades, embodying roles in pastoral ministry, private education, and the business sector. Adopted at nine months old and raised in Central Florida, Dave's early life was marked by diverse experiences, including playing sports and engaging in various jobs. His academic journey led him to a Christian university in South Carolina, where he earned three degrees: a BA, MA, and PhD, showcasing his dedication to personal and intellectual growth.

Dave is celebrated for his strategic thinking, robust administrative and leadership skills, and exemplary time management abilities. A voracious reader, he has been married for over 40 years, is a father to seven children, and a grandfather to seven. He enjoys sports and delving into construction projects, which reflect his dynamic interests and abilities.

In his professional capacity, Dave founded Penn Coaching & Consulting eight years ago and serves as its CEO. The company is dedicated to aiding businesses in various sectors—from accounting to tech—by integrating the “Strategic Scaling Framework.” This proprietary methodology focuses on hiring, onboarding, developing, and retaining productive employees. With over 35 years of management experience, Dave's passion for leadership development is evident in his commitment to helping business owners and leaders scale their operations effectively. His approach is hands-on as he leans into his clients' challenges, offering guidance and strategies to navigate the complexities of business growth.

About Penn Coaching & Consulting

Penn Coaching & Consulting is dedicated to advancing church leadership and organizational growth through bespoke coaching and consulting services. Leveraging individualized coaching sessions and internationally recognized assessment tools, the firm assists leaders in enhancing clarity, strategizing business progression, and improving life quality. Clients see tangible advancements in their ministries by introducing specific weekly action steps coupled with a supportive accountability framework.

Central to Penn C&C's approach are three guiding philosophies: fostering a dynamic organizational structure, focusing on future-oriented strategies, and recognizing the critical role of personnel in achieving success. The firm advocates for constructing a team of high-caliber, complementary individuals around the founder to avoid growth bottlenecks and facilitate skillful handling of various business aspects. 

Moreover, Penn C&C emphasizes incorporating an external perspective to navigate future challenges efficiently, ensuring decisions contribute to long-term growth. Lastly, it champions the idea that the quality of a company's workforce is fundamental to its success, advocating for investment in employee development to foster mutual growth and outperform competitors.

Tweetable Moments:

03:42 – “I'm all about people and leaning in to people because I think often as leaders we don't really value the people that are on our team as much as we should.”

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Penn Coaching & Consulting at

Check out Penn Coaching & Consulting on LinkedIn at

Check out Dave Pennington on LinkedIn at

Check out Dave Pennington on Facebook at

Check out Dave Pennington on Instagram at

Check out Dave Pennington’s free Productive Employee System Checklist

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence. Com and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence. Com and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, it's Doctor Dave Pennington. David, you are found on the web at Penn, of which you are the founder and owner Penn Coaching and Consulting. It's a pleasure to have you, Dave.

Dave (00:01:11) - Thank you. Josh, it's a pleasure to be with you.

Josh (00:01:13) - Yeah.

Josh (00:01:14) - So I love an overview of the work you do, who you serve and your impact in the world.

Dave (00:01:19) - sure. I'd be glad to give that. I started this company a little over eight years ago. I've kind of been in management all my life. So 35 plus years of management, done a bit. A lot of teams and, you know, developed a lot of people through the years. But, I would say, really, I'm all about people. Here's what I find with owners. And my market basically is kind of, I'd say larger small to midsize business owners or leaders and organizations. And what I find with most of them is that they are what I call player coaches. If you think about baseball, typically they're the starting shortstop on the team, and they are simultaneously coaching the team at the same time. So they play a major role in the company, but they really overseeing everybody trying to develop and scale and grow. And you can do that. But it's challenging. You know it's not easy to do that.

Dave (00:02:05) - So what I like to do is, is really lean in with a leader to start with and help the leader make sure he or she is in the right role within the company. Because what I find is, you know, when you start something or develop something, you kind of add a hat, then you add a hat, then you add a hat, and pretty soon you've got about 12 or 15 hats or areas of responsibility you're trying to do. And, you know, no one's good at all that. But yet you do typically have a secret sauce, a secret zone, if you would kind of a zone of excellence. And if you can get yourself in that zone, what happens is it really changes your game. It lowers your stress level. It's really what you do well, what you enjoy doing. And then what you want to do from there is build a complementary team around you. And I usually say it this way. Believe it or not, there are actually people that love doing what you hate doing, and they're really good at it.

Dave (00:02:54) - And you want to find those people. So I think if you think about it as an owner or as a leader, the most valuable commodity you have is your time because you can't get any more time. Doesn't matter how much you make, doesn't matter what your role is. You only have so much time. The second most valuable commodity you have is not your money, although we tend to think so, but it's really your people. If you have good people, you can always make more money. And the idea here is, you know, if you get the right people on your team and you and I have a process, I take them through. If you develop those people and retain those people, what happens is you really solve about 90% of your problems. You make your life a lot easier. Your company becomes more profitable. You become more, you know, excited about what you're doing. If you get the wrong people on your team, you typically struggle and you spend a lot of time putting out fires.

Dave (00:03:42) - So I'm all about people and leaning in people because I think often as leaders, we don't really value the people that are on our team as much as we should.

Josh (00:03:52) - Okay, so what happens if you say that statement and a leader goes, oh, are you kidding? I really value our people. Do you mind further elaborating on that concept? Sure. What that means.

Dave (00:04:04) - All right. Let's back up a little bit. Let's say you you really work hard at hiring the right person, which frankly, is not as easy as it sounds. Yeah. quite often I say we hire from the gut. You know, we find someone we like, they sort of fit what we want. Not really. So we sort of shape the job to fit the person rather than finding the person to fit the job. Okay. So hiring. Right. And it includes not just skill set and experience, but also it includes aptitude and even culture fit. Is this person a good fit in your culture and your company? So there's a lot to hiring.

Dave (00:04:36) - Well, but usually where we break down, even if we hire well, the next thing is we don't onboard very well. And what I mean by that is when you bring someone into your company, you want to roll out the red carpet. This is someone you've worked hard to get. You want, you want them to feel valuable and appreciated, and you're excited to have them on your team and you really want to set them up to succeed. Often what happens in companies is, you know, here's your computer, there's your cubicle, here's a manual read through it, you know, and you know, I hope you succeed. I hope you do well. But really, what you want to do is you want to lean in and really help them to understand the role that you brought them into. What are the three, the five things they need to do to be able to succeed in that role? We often expect them to figure it out on their own. And if they're good, they usually will.

Dave (00:05:26) - But it might take three months, six months, 12 months, 18 months, and you put them through a lot of pain when you could roll the carpet out for them and say, hey, look, you know, here are 3 to 5 things you need to do to really succeed. Well, if you do these things, you're going to be fine. And then kind of the next level is often when we bring people into our team, we expect them to develop themselves. You know, in the words they're just going to grow, they're going to develop, they're going to become high, you know, optimal people who really contribute at a high level. Sometimes that happens, but often what they need is you as the leader to lean into them, to actually understand them, listen to them, understand not only their aptitude. Sometimes, you know, we hire someone for here and actually they fit better over here. But we don't know that until we get to know them and understand what you know, what they're how they're wired, and then even understand not only their aptitude, but their aspirations.

Dave (00:06:23) - So often in working, it becomes what I call a win lose situation for the employee. The company wins, the employee loses. That's not a very good situation to be in. As an employee, I want to win also. And it doesn't have to be a win lose. It can be a win win. And so as a leader, what I want to do is lean in to the people that I've hired, particularly my I'll call them direct reports of people that are right underneath me. And I really want to get to know them well, and I want to help them grow and develop. Sometimes that means I get them training. Sometimes, I mean, it means I help them get better organized. Sometimes it means I provide more accountability or whatever it is that they need. I want to really lean in and I want to help them grow and develop to a very really their greatest potential when they are there. Not only do they win, but also the company wins. And so it becomes a win win situation.

Dave (00:07:18) - Yeah. And then last of all is the retention piece for me. so often what happens we work really hard to get people. We get them on our team. They're functioning at a high level. Well, you know what? We want to keep those people, and yet it's easy to lose them. So often we think we're going to lose them because of money or lack of money. We're not paying them enough or whatever. But that's not usually why people leave. People leave because they don't feel valued. They don't feel appreciated. There's not opportunity for growth or development for them or frankly, just poor management. And so rather than sort of viewing the employee to come in and serving the company and helping the company and growing the company, what we want to do, I think as leaders is we want to really, view them as a vital part of what we're doing, and we want to help them develop at their highest level. They may leave us, but it'll be the hardest decision they've ever made because we've created a sticky environment and they feel like, you know what? This day has finally come.

Dave (00:08:16) - I've kind of dreaded it for months or years, but I have an opportunity where I need to go. But I just want you to know I greatly appreciate all the investment you've made in my life and all that you've done. In fact, I wouldn't have this opportunity were it not for you. And then often, what will happen once they leave? They will help us find their replacement or send us people because they so appreciate what we've done to invest in them. So that's kind of the the framework that I work from.

Josh (00:08:41) - Yeah. Well, boy, doesn't that sound like a dream. So to someone who's listening and says, you know what, that is really not what seems to be going on right now. And, you know, I've heard this where, you know, it could be a leader and they just start to blame outside forces. It's just the economy. It's just the, you know, the current labor pool. And I've seen this where they'll start to just blame external things. How can we assess whether.

Josh (00:09:11) - Oh no, it it's external. It has nothing to do with me. I'm being silly a little bit here. versus, you know, perhaps the reason that we have low engagement, high turnover, could have something to do with the leadership.

Dave (00:09:27) - Well, it's funny because often it has something to do with leadership. I always say, you know, when I meet with a leader, they'll talk a little bit about, you know, I've got some employees that are kind of hard to handle. I've got some squirrely clients that are hard to service and provide for and whatever. But ultimately, when I lift the hood and kick the tires, almost always it comes back to leadership. And a lot of times it's because the leader is trying to do too many things and doing them poorly or in a mediocre fashion. That's why I always start with a leader. I want to get the leader doing what he or she does best. And then when you do that, what happens is the person really just begins to succeed because you know he's doing what he does best, and then that tells him who else he needs on his team.

Dave (00:10:13) - You know, who also can do his best. And so it makes a big difference when I'm succeeding and I'm not overextended. In fact, I always start with an org chart. Some people don't even have an org chart. And so what happens is I force them to even just handwrite an org chart. And I say, I want you to put your name on every place, every role that you're fulfilling in your company. And I've literally had people come back to me and say, wow, I never realized all that I'm doing. No wonder I'm so tired all the time. You know, I'm just way doing way too much. And frankly, a lot of things I'm doing I don't do well. I'll give you an example. I had a guy while back, a client, and he owned an international font company. So fonts internationally, which is kind of a unique space. Yeah. And when I first started meeting with him, I said, tell me a little bit about what you do in your company.

Dave (00:11:01) - And he says, I do this, this and this. And he says, and I do all the financials. I said, wow, really? I said, you do payables, receivables, payroll. Yeah, I do all that. So I said, do you like doing that stuff? He said, not really. I said, are you good at doing that stuff? He said not. No, not really. I said, all right. I'll say his name was Joe. It wasn't Joe, but I'll say his name was Joe. I said, well, Joe, let me ask you this. How much time does it take you to do all that stuff? He says about 8 to 10 hours a week. I said, wow. Oh, I said, let me ask you this, Joe, what are you worth, an hour? What's your hourly rate? He kind of paused. He said, you know, I'm about a 250 an hour guy. I said, okay.

Dave (00:11:38) - I said, look, I've got a deal for you. I want to do your financials. I'll do payables, receivables, payroll, I'll do all that stuff. And I said, it's only going to take me ten hours a week, and I'm only going to charge you $250 an hour. What do you think? Any kind of pause and he just started laughing. He says, I guess I'm really paying that, aren't I? I said, yeah, you are. I said, you realize you could get a bookkeeper for 35, $40 an hour, probably wouldn't take him ten hours a week because he actually knows what he's doing. Okay. And here's the real kicker. What could you do in your company if I could give you back ten hours every week of your life, what difference would that make? And it was kind of one of those moments where he just really, you know, he wasn't he was trying to save money. But not really. Not really positioning himself to bring a very high return of investment on his own time and energy.

Dave (00:12:26) - And so once you get position and once you bring people on your team that are positioned well, what happens is the whole company just takes off. I'll give you another quick story. I had a friend who was owned a computer service company, and I met with him and I said, well, tell me a little bit about your company. I said, you know, you kind of have business development or sales and you have operations. Which one are you? He says, oh, I'm sales without any question. I'm sales. He says, look, I'm not trying to brag, but if I get before people I close like 80% of everybody I talked to, I went, wow, I'm impressed. 80% close ratio. That's pretty high. I said, what about the operations side? He said, nah, not my thing. I'm horrible at it. I'm terrible. I said, all right, being honest right now in your company, what amount of time, energy and focus are you giving toward sales versus operational? To my surprise, he told me he was 85% operational and 15% sales.

Dave (00:13:15) - I said, well, you kill it in sales and you hate operations and you're doing 85% operations.

Josh (00:13:21) - Oh my goodness.

Dave (00:13:22) - Yeah. So I just pause and I said, hey, how's that working for you? Literally his head drops. He says, it's not right now. I hate my life every day. I it's all I can do just to keep going. I said, well, how about if we find you someone to handle your operations? Probably won't be 100%, but at least 80% of it. You'll probably still have to do 20% because you're the owner. But you can handle that. We got you out of operations back into sales. What would that do for your company? He said, you know, if I did that, I'd doubled my company in 18 months. And long story made short, that's exactly what happened. He got into some government contracts and his company just took off. Okay. So these are, you know, concepts and ideas. They're not unique. They're not unusual.

Dave (00:14:02) - But frankly, most business owners aren't utilizing them. They're not executing on them.

Josh (00:14:08) - What a great exercise that you just outlined. I think, you know, if I were to give our listener homework is to go ahead. It's using your words here. Go ahead and draw out an org chart and think of all of the jobs that you are doing. And I'm certain that most of us are doing work outside of our zone of genius. And that's just how brilliant that is. You know, if this guy's doing so well on the sales front, do what you enjoy doing. Do what you're exceptionally talented at. And, you know, I wonder what the excuses are that someone may give. I could think maybe they may have some financial concerns. Right? They might say, well, look, you know, for me to hire someone in that role, that's going to be a significant investment. You know, sometimes we have some cash flow struggles. And so if I make that commitment, you know, I just want to make sure that, you know, it's like they might be concerned about risk, you know, with, further delegation or investment into operations.

Dave (00:15:09) - There's often reasons and, you know, it's not something that happens overnight. for example, when they build out that org chart and they put themselves on the org chart and they realize, wow, I'm really doing a lot here. So what we want to do is think about, okay, what's the first role that they need to find someone and replace themselves in? Okay. Sometimes, for example, if they're not really salespeople, but they're doing sales and they're doing okay, but it's kind of exhausting them and they're just discouraged about it. Well, maybe the sales role is the first one you need to replace. And you know that there's a lot of ways to replace it. It can be straight commission where frankly, it doesn't cost you any money if they don't sell, you know, or whatever. Sometimes the reason why we don't build out things and to get the right people is we're a little insecure. We're afraid that someone might come in who can do something better than what we do. And my response to that is, I hope you can do some things better than what I can do, or there's no reason for you to be here.

Dave (00:16:04) - You know, I want to hire people that excel beyond what I can do, particularly in the areas that I don't like doing and I don't necessarily do well. And usually you'll find, you know, in time, hiring those people actually doesn't decrease your situation, your income. It actually increases it because they're going to excel at what they do, and it brings in more income and customers are happier. And I mean, the list goes on and on, all the things that come. So you kind of build it out strategically little by little and replace yourself. Okay, I'm going to replace this role next. I'm going to replace this role. But ultimately what you want to do is you want to get to the point where you really have key support to help you in all of these major areas. And as an owner, what your role becomes. You fulfill your one area, you know that you kind of do well, and in time you may even give that one away. But at least initially, you fulfill that and then your job goes from doing a bunch of things to now you're working on developing the people that you've brought on your team and helping them do what they do better.

Dave (00:17:11) - And you'll find your stress load goes down, your energy goes up, and frankly, your profitability goes up as well.

Speaker 3 (00:17:18) - Yeah. Dave, this.

Josh (00:17:20) - Is all just great advice. I really appreciate our conversation. tell me a bit about how you work. Your website is Penn How do you engage with your clients?

Speaker 3 (00:17:31) - Sure.

Dave (00:17:31) - And by the way it's Penn Penn coaching. Com if you look for it. Well what I do typically I engage with people on a six month basis. I find that's a good time that I can bring a lot of value. And it's not a long term commitment. Often what happens is they'll start six months and then it gets extended. But, you know, people feel more comfortable with sort of committing to a shorter, you know, framework. And I have a couple of options. We can do it in a, in a group kind of format, which is a little less expensive. Or we can do it one on one, which I'm happy to do and enjoy doing.

Dave (00:18:03) - But I have a process that I take people through. I start with some assessments and help them really make sure they're dialed in where they should be. You know, we we begin to build out the current. I call it a current org chart, which, by the way, often when I start with them, I have a little card here. It looks a lot like this. One guy at the top with a bunch of responsibilities. Okay, I call this guy the fireman. What you're doing is putting out fires all day long, and I want to move them to something that looks more like this. It is 3 to 5 direct reports underneath you that handle key areas of your organization or your business. Those three people or five people. And I usually say, look, if you're really good, you can have five direct reports. Most of us aren't that good. So start with three, you know, and find the key people. It might be marketing and sales. You know, it might be customer support.

Dave (00:18:55) - I mean, it depends on your company. It depends on what you do. There's a lot of variables. So it's very customized to you and to your company. It's not just a, you know, the principles and concepts are similar, but the way we execute them and apply them to your company differ because everybody is different and every company is different. So there's a lot of customization. It takes place, and usually what happens is you begin to kind of actually rejuvenate you as an owner, particularly if you've been in business for a while where you think, wow, I am exhausted and now I can kind of get up above the water and actually see, hey, there is life up here. I'll give you an example here. I have a printer that I'm working with is Canadian Guy. He's been in business for a while, and he kind of does everything in his company, and I'm really helping him restructure his company and rebuild it. So it's not so dependent upon him that there's a number of things.

Dave (00:19:49) - It keeps him from being exhausted. It actually positions him to either sell or or whatever he wants to do in the future, because if it's too dependent upon him, it's hard to sell it, you know, and the valuation goes way down. Yeah, but we're going through. And just like I talked about, we're rebuilding his org chart. his name was all over the org chart when we first started. And we've actually I met with one of his key employees. And what happened was, as I met with her, gave her an assessment, I said, you know, I don't think you're in the right place in this company. And she was like, what do you mean? I said, I think you fit better over here. And I begin to describe what that position she says, you know, I'd love to have that position. That'd be great. I mean, I would really enjoy that. So he's actually made a shift and made a major move and moved her to a different area.

Dave (00:20:34) - That takes a really about half of his load away, and he's already seeing the benefit of that. And then we're starting to do that with the other departments. So it's it's very customized. And frankly, it gets to be exciting because it rejuvenates the owner. He really sees the potential and he sees that, you know what, I could do much better than what I'm doing. And I usually reward it this way. It's kind of like a pebble in the pond. When you throw a pebble in a pond, there's a ripple effect. And when I can help the leader grow and develop and help him build the team he wants, there is this ripple effect that affects everybody in the company, and it kind of moves them from addition to what I call multiplication, you know? In addition, you just add one, then you add one, then you add one, then you add one. But multiplication, if you get the right people, all of the people you're adding, they add multiple people.

Dave (00:21:26) - And pretty soon the whole thing just begins to take off.

Josh (00:21:31) - Well, Dave Pennington again, your website is Penn Penn When somebody goes there what would you recommend they do.

Dave (00:21:41) - Well there there's a number of things they can do. The resources page I have a number of blogs and and and little short videos. there's also some ebooks you can download and then there's a consultation call. it's a no obligation call, not a high pressure call. It's more of a conversation. And I would encourage you to schedule something. Or if you just want to email me personally, my email is Dave. Dave at Penn Coaching and Coaching. Com I'm glad to get on a call with you. Talk a little bit about your company. Kind of understand where you are. Explain a little bit of what I do. if it's a good fit then we can talk about working together. if it's not a good fit, I may have someone else I can refer you to or, you know, give you a little guidance and, you know, just try to help you and encourage you in whatever way I can.

Dave (00:22:25) - but I love to meet with people, and I love to lean in to their companies and to them as individuals and just really help them grow and scale their companies.

Speaker 3 (00:22:33) - Excellent.

Josh (00:22:33) - All right again Penn David Pennington. Again you are the founder and owner David it's been a wonderful conversation. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dave (00:22:43) - Thank you Josh.

Josh (00:22:50) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence. Common guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our Listener Facebook group. Just search for the Thoughtful Entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love, even if you just stop by to say hi, I'd love to meet you. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together, we are empowering one another as thoughtful entrepreneurs.

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