Several years ago, Deedee Myers, Ph.D., sat down with the other principals in her company—CUES Supplier member and strategic provider DDJ Myers Ltd., Phoenix—to have a soul-searching conversation. The question: “What are we really trying to do here?”
“Many of us came here from corporate America, where the individual does not make a difference,” says Myers, founder and CEO. “But we believe that each person does make a difference.”
That philosophy shapes the company’s approach to working with clients in achieving its stated purpose: “advancing leadership success.” At DDJ Myers, this entails focusing on both the individual and the whole organization.
“It starts within the person,” Myers says. “What are his or her true talents and competencies? If the executive team understands their individual talents and potential, they can bring that out and coordinate with each other. That makes a high-performing team. From there, it grows into advancing leadership from within the whole organization.”
The DDJ Myers team practices what they preach. “If you look at our business cards,” Myers says, “you’ll see that each of us has his or her own purpose printed on it.” Myers’ is restoring and sustaining dignity.
“In the midst of continual change it is important to remember the humanity in each of us as we work inside organizations and communities,” she adds.
Support to Reach Potential
Launched in 1989, Myers’ company now has a staff of 15 people and counts CUs as half of its business. The company offers executive recruitment, strategic organization and the Advancing Leadership Institute.
DDJ Myers’ executive search is managed as a project inclusive of the CU’s culture, strategy and design. The strategic organization portion of the company’s work entails getting everybody in the organization engaged, “so that when they walk into work in the morning, they know exactly what they need to do to fulfill the strategic plan,” Myers says.
For the Advancing Leadership Institute component, the staff makes presentations to groups, and goes into organizations to do custom leadership training.
Interestingly, the company has a leadership program designed for women. Last year the firm also designed and launched its Emerging Leaders Training Program for people who aspire to become a CEO someday.
“We’re starting our new Emerging Leaders cohort in March,” Myers said, “co-sponsored by the Northwest Credit Union Association.” This will involve nine days of training plus several months of project work, coaching and mentoring.
Beyond the Job
DDJ Myers also puts a strong emphasis on making a difference in the community. The company’s employees devote time and energy to community service, whether that involves tutoring in local classrooms, talking to young professional groups about leadership, helping small CUs that serve underserved markets, serving as foster parents, or providing support to amputees.
“We’ve wanted to build a group of people who do good work,” she says. “That’s important to me. I have nine children, and I have to leave the world better for them and their children and their children’s children.”
Myers finds ways to better herself, too. For instance, in early January she received a Ph.D. in human development, which had her kids worried at first. They wondered if she’d leave the work they know she enjoys. She reassured them that wasn’t about to happen.
“I love this work,” she says. “I love being in conversations with our clients about what is possible and how we can get there.”
Dianne Molvig is a freelance writer based in Madison, Wis.