As my executive coach Lorri helped me make and execute difficult personnel decisions, including terminating two long term senior employees. She helped me think through the restructuring of the company following our graduation from 8(a) status, and to do some talent assessment and succession planning as we moved forward. At a more personal level, Lorri coached me on my communication style and helped me improve communication within my management team. I recommend her enthusiastically."

former CEO, Akima Corporation

Bruce Adkins


Services: Executive & Leadership Coaching

The higher you go in an organization and the broader your responsibilities, the less likely you are to get solid, unbiased feedback regarding your performance, behavior, and impact. It may become increasingly difficult to find people to talk with — people without their own agendas. This is how coaching can help. Executive coaching is a confidential, one-on-one partnership for the purpose of improved organizational performance and personal effectiveness. You get someone to bounce ideas off of, to brainstorm, to talk with realistically about risks, learn from mistakes, and share your dreams. Your coach is your trusted partner — a quiet force in your corner cheering you on, challenging you to think more broadly, giving you honest feedback, and sometimes even calling your bluff!

Coaching ...

  • gives you a mirror in which to see yourself and your organization

  • provides a safe place to reflect, see patterns, make connections, learn and re-charge
  • helps to ground you in your own values and your own leadership style so that you make decisions that are at once good for the organization and aligned with who you are as a leader
  • increases your confidence to take on challenges and your courage to take risks
  • provides specific tools and techniques to enhance your leadership effectiveness.

Want a free sample coaching session? Email me to set it up!


When would you hire an executive coach? Click here for the answer

There are a multitude of situations that might lead you to coaching. These are just a few possibilities:

  • You’re moving into a new role or a position of broader leadership

  • You’re moving from an individual contributor role to a leadership role

  • You want to think more broadly

  • You have to make some tough decisions that will affect the organization and the people in it

  • You’re leading the organization into new areas or in a change initiative

  • You want help in holding yourself accountable

  • You want someone to bounce ideas off of, provide you feedback, and be in your corner

  • You want to stay grounded and live your life true to your values

  • You’re sorting out what is next for you in your career

  • You’re feeling stuck or bored or lacking in energy

While a specific situation might be the impetus to hire a coach, continued growth and development is a key characteristic of the most effective leaders. Coaching provides support as you develop your own leadership style and initiate and sustain authentic change.

How does coaching work?

   The Coaching Relationship

  • Create trusting partnership
  • Dig into your values
  • Create goals
  • Data gathering
  • Realistic plan of action
  • 2-3 sessions/month, 40-60 minutes per session

Coaching begins by developing the partnership between coach and coachee — getting to know each other, sharing dreams, values, concerns; setting up some “ground rules” for how you will interact with each other, and over time, developing goals for the coaching engagement. With goals in mind, you might then do some data gathering using assessments, interviews, observations — the methods depend upon the specific goals and the people involved. The purpose is to get an accurate picture of what is working, where the opportunities for growth are, and what may need work in terms of personal and professional effectiveness. Out of this comes a realistic plan of action. The coaching partnership deepens as the coaching continues, usually in 2-3 sessions a month, inviting and enabling you to examine things at a deeper level and often creating significant shifts in perspective and discovery of possibilities you might have never before considered. Coaching can be done in person, over the phone, or even via Skype. Sessions generally last between 40-60 minutes.




Services: Organization Development

Organization Development (OD) focuses on creating healthy human systems, aligned with enterprise systems, resulting in organizations that are agile, productive, effective. Such organizations and the people in them learn from their experience and take advantage of the opportunities that come with change. (Click here to download NIck Mann's article on OD.)

Cortland Group provides custom solutions grounded in deep experience, systems thinking, and proven models. We work in partnership with you to create opportunities and to identify underlying issues and concerns. Together we develop and implement strategies that lead to higher productivity, reduced turnover, true team work, better customer service, smooth transitions, improved morale, and more effective communications.

Our OD services include change management, facilitation, leadership development, team building, strategic planning, organizational assessment and organizational design.




Services: OD Change Management/Leadership

Cortland Group helps you address the human side of change systematically and systemically. Drawing on the rich research and theory base on organizational change and personal transitions, and on our own extensive experience assisting organizations to successfully implement change, we work with you to design an approach that will work in your organization. We assess organizational readiness for change, identify and address issues and concerns, develop effective communication processes and support systems, and create a working roadmap to guide you through the change process. We facilitate critical meetings and create a safe environment for meaningful conversations about change in order to build commitment to change rather than resistance. We provide training to your management team so that they can support their employees through the change process.

Representative Project


System-wide Change Management and Leadership Development


A major state university was about to implement new, system-wide software for all campuses of the university. Leaders of the various campuses had never worked together in a coordinated fashion and did not understand the issues on one another's campuses or at a systems level. The university had not provided basic leadership training for its non-academic managers and leaders. Goals of the project were to prepare the organizational leadership for managing a major system and cultural change effort, to provide coordinated, basic leadership training for system leaders, and to build relationships across the system for future coordinated efforts.


Consulting assistance involved an initial needs assessment to identify potential areas for training and consulting, design, development of a 10-day “Taking Charge of Change” leadership development/change management training program delivered to approximately 25 managers per cohort over a three-month period. A two-day module was designed and delivered to the most senior executives across the university system, helping them understand how the change would affect people and systems at all levels, and working with them, in particular, on how their communication would/could help the organization negotiate the change in a positive way. As a result of the program, campus leadership provided support to their staffs to understand and adjust to change. The new software was implemented in stages, successfully, on all campuses. The program was so successful that, following the initial offerings to approximately 75 individuals, it was repeated five more times in order to reach all managers across the system.


I want to thank you for the most impactful offsite I think I have ever experienced ... That is due largely to your facilitation and the care in planning. You made sure every detail was accounted for and the linkages to each activity were made ... I was thankful that you were brave enough to challenge what was in the room, therefore creating an enviorment where it would be possible for others to do the same."

Executive Vice President 

Wells Fargo Bank

see all client results »


Services: Facilitation

A facilitator manages the process and dynamics of a group so that the group can do its work. A good facilitator understands the goals of the meeting(s) and designs a process for the team/group to be most productive. Skilled facilitation can make the difference between frustrating meetings and productive, energizing meetings by:

  • Establishing a climate of openness

  • Providing a structure and using a variety of activities to pace the group

  • Fostering creative approaches

  • Keeping the meeting on track

  • Ensuring that all views are heard and respected

  • Challenging assumptions

  • Minimizing factors that can derail a meeting, such as dominant personalities, internal politics and functional differences

  • Building consensus

  • Creating buy in/ownership

  • Achieving closure

Effective facilitation is a two-pronged effort: careful design and skillful process facilitation. We design meetings and processes that enable you to meet your objectives, whether for a small group of 5-10 participants or a large group of as many as 250 participants. Our interactive approach gets participants involved so they really talk with and listen to one another. Our process facilitation creates an open atmosphere in which people are willing to say what’s on their minds during the session, not afterward. We keep the discussion focused while honoring diverse perspectives, enabling our clients to broaden their understanding of issues and opportunities. Participants generally leave our sessions feeling that they have learned something by listening to one another and working together; and they have a clear idea of next steps toward goals.

Cortland Group has facilitated strategic planning sessions, team development sessions, decision-making meetings, issue resolution, large group/whole system events, and retreats of all types.


Representative Project:


Design and facilitation of a 2-day off-site for a team to celebrate reaching a key milestone, integrate new members into the team, and prepare for the next milestone.

"Lorri, I want to truly thank you for the most impactful offsite I think I have ever experienced. It was impactful for me personally and for my team. That is due largely to your facilitation and the care in planning ..." Read the rest »


Services: Team-Building/Development

Whether an executive team at the top of the organization, a project team, or an ongoing work team, team dynamics can either support or impede the work. Cortland Group is adept at identifying underlying issues, clarifying different perspectives, and helping team members to respect and understand one another's strengths, skills and styles in service of common goals. We use a variety of tools in team development, such as:

  • Action research. We interview team members individually to build trust and to gather data on issues, perspectives, values, goals, hopes and fears. We then feed that data back to the team in a carefully facilitated session so that team members can identify common ground, possibilities, and underlying issues and concerns. Out of this process comes the action agenda and the discussion agenda.

  • Myers Brigs Type Indicator (MBTI) and/or other instruments that help team members understand themselves and one another better and how their different personalities and styles affect the organizational dynamics

  • Experiential activities in which team members work together and learn/observe how their processes affect their results

  • Visioning exercises to develop a common vision

  • Facilitation of meaningful conversations about team goals, roles, processes, interpersonal relationships

Representative Project


Worked with leadership team of a department of county government over a period of six years to strengthen the team so that it took real leadership of the department, developing and implementing a strategic plan while creating a more positive organizational culture.

"I think our real accomplishment is that we created a leadership team out of a group of very different individuals operating very different shops. They learned to talk with one another...” Read entire testimonial »


Services: Leadership Development

Leadership development has been a core and enduring theme of Cortland Group’s work for nearly 30 years. Our approach to leadership development goes beyond training to include competency models, mentoring, leaders as coaches, developmental assignments, 360 feedback, action learning, and creating a culture of ongoing learning. Different approaches to leadership development are appropriate in different organizational cultures and at different stages of an individual’s career. Cortland Group’s leadership development work includes:

  • Development of enterprise-wide leadership development architectures and execution strategies

  • Design/delivery of leadership development programs for various levels, including senior executives, mid-level leaders, first line supervisors, and aspiring leaders. Depending upon the organizational needs and the goals of the training, we have developed and delivered training on systems thinking, strategic thinking, delegating, giving and receiving feedback, performance management, difficult conversations, team leadership and team development, leadership styles, communication skills, coaching skills, behavioral interviewing, service leadership, change management, diversity, conflict management, negotiation skills, emotional intelligence and business acumen.

  • Integration of mentoring, coaching, peer coaching, competency models, assessment centers, developmental assignments, action learning approaches into an organization’s leadership development process

  • At senior and executive levels in particular, integration of global issues, virtual work force, political savvy and influence skills.

As a member of the faculty at the Federal Executive Institute since 2005, Dr. Manasse has been involved in teaching, facilitating, and coaching executives in the nation’s premier executive development program for the most senior executives in the Federal government, Leadership for a Democratic Society. This experience has strongly influenced Cortland Group’s thinking about leadership at the executive level.

Cortland Group has designed and delivered countless leadership development programs for clients ranging from small banks, money center banks, research and scientific organizations, engineering organizations, institutions of higher education and local government. A few representative leadership development projects include:

  • Design and Deployment of Enterprise-wide Leadership Development Architecture
    Following a merger of two major money center banks, Cortland Group serves as the primary consultants in the design of a leadership development architecture targeting 14,ooo leaders at four levels (first line supervisor, experienced manager, emerging leader, and senior leader/executive.) We initiated a stakeholder relations processes and obtained senior leadership buy-in/support. We also worked to integrate training with performance management, coaching, mentoring, 360 feedback, and developed processes for execution of a systemic, enterprise-wide solution within varied individual lines of business.

  • Leadership Development for Navy Engineers and Scientists
    Over a multi-year period, Cortland Group has worked with a team of instructional designers and facilitators to design and deliver leadership and management training for those considering a leadership role in the organization, those in middle-management roles, and senior leaders of a Navy research laboratory. The programs have included various assessments, simulations, coaching, and integration with the organization's mentoring program. They have also provided a balance of basic leadership and management skills plus information about the organization, its strategic direction, environment, and policy/financial parameters.


Services: Strategic Planning

Over and over, we hear from people that they want to know the strategy— they want to understand the vision and know the direction so they can make informed decisions and work toward something, not just feel that they are “running in place.” A good strategic planning process brings the leadership of an organization together with multiple data sources and perspectives to create vision, alignment, and strategic direction. That plan is then communicated to all organizational members in a way that creates ownership. Both the process and the plan can energize the organization and the people in it. When people know the direction and the parameters, and when all of the parts are in alignment, then people are energized and productive.

There is no single best way to do strategic planning. The approach and process depend upon the culture, industry, size, diversity of functions and history of the organization. We draw on multiple planning models. Our experience is that, whatever the specific approach, certain components are essential:

  • All members of the leadership team are involved in and committed to the planning process and willing to listen to and explore alternative perspectives

  • The plan flows from a common vision of the organization and a clear statement of organizational mission.

  • The planning session creates a picture of the whole system and an understanding of how the various parts fit together, using data that is openly shared. This involves both analysis and synthesis. Planning proceeds from this systems perspective.

  • Planning engages both head and heart — both analytic and intuitive process. Cortland Group uses a variety of interactive activities to achieve this.

  • Communication is an essential part of the strategic planning process. The plan is effectively communicated throughout the organization and used on an ongoing basis for resource allocation and decision-making. Operational plans and budgets evolve from the strategic plan. This is the action-planning part of the process.

Our strategic planning experience includes annual planning sessions for major financial institutions, one-time strategic planning and visioning sessions for entrepreneurial companies, one day planning off-sites for divisions or departments of organizations.

“Having a long-range plan has given us focus as a division and completely changed for the better how we manage our own shops.” — County Department of Support Services


There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

Management Consultant, Author 

Peter Drucker

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Services: Organizational Assessment/Design

Assessment is often the first step in any organizational development effort. It may be triggered by external factors (newly competitive environment, change in demographics, change in economic conditions) or by internal factors (reduced productivity, low morale, overlapping and sometimes competing functions, loss of a key customer or contract, or some exciting new opportunity that has appeared). Through interviews, focus groups and surveys, we identify underlying issues, concerns, positions, hopes and dreams. Then, working in partnership with you, we analyze the data, identify the highest priority issues, and develop and implement solutions and strategies. This might involve improved communication processes, changes in meeting formats, team development, training in particular skills, facilitated processes for bringing people together, educating organizational members regarding environmental issues and constraints, or organizational redesign. The intervention is much more likely to be successful because of the involvement of people in the assessment phase.

“The process you took us through enabled everyone to understand the need for change. Once everyone was on board, it was much easier to agree on the actual changes in structure and to implement them.” — County Department of Human Services

“Through the assessment and feedback process, we realized that the main thing we were missing was a common sense of direction and purpose. Now that we have a plan in place, both morale and productivity are on the upswing.”