In this edition of our client spotlight, we are joined by Josh Nickell, VP of the Equipment Segment at the American Rental Association (ARA). Josh has had a relationship with Turknett Leadership Group for a very long time. We wanted to capture his story and share his journey which has spanned from owning his own successful business to moving overseas and back again.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background. What do you love most about the work that you do with the ARA?
My grandfather and my dad were both in the equipment rental industry. I swore up and down that I would not be in the same industry, yet here I am! It turns out that this industry is a very neat place to be. It’s very young with a lot of growth opportunities. It’s also one of the most sustainable parts of the construction industry as part of the sharing economy. I went to college and knew I wanted to get into the business but lacked the aptitude for mechanics, so I couldn’t see it as my path. I still decided to give it a shot, and now I have spent most of my career here. I’ve owned my own business, worked in rental software, now currently at the ARA as the VP of the Equipment Segment.
How did your path cross with TLG?
When I was at a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference, I saw a presentation by Lyn Turknett, Co-founder, and Co-chair, on using assessments as part of your hiring and training processes. Recently, we had gone through a hiring spree and had hired some employees who had issues not known to us, including fraud. We wanted to prevent these kinds of hires, so the assessment seemed appealing.
We met with Lyn, and she went over our options with us and tried to help us solve our problems. It really blew me back that the owner of the company was spending so much time with us, treating us like a top customer despite it only being a $25 assessment. I was very impressed with the true non-transactional care that TLG gave to its customers. Because of that, we sought more opportunities to work with them. I had a couple of young people on my team who didn’t have the same background as I did, so I wanted them to be coached. However, I was convinced by TLG Staffer Nancy Cranford that I couldn’t coach them until I was coached myself. So, I linked up with Bob Turknett, TLG Co-founder, and Co-chair, who became my coach.
Q: What has your experience been like working with TLG over the years? What kind of impact has this relationship had on your career?
Well, I’ve certainly made better decisions. Having a coach has allowed me to take away so much from all the different opportunities I have had. When you have that independent third party to talk through these things with, it’s like a “learning laboratory,” as Bob called it. It has helped me to accelerate my growth and skip steps in the normal process. Coaching helps to reinforce the things you are learning and speeds up your growth. You save on the pain of trying to figure out things the hard way!
For example, when I did my first 360-assessment, I scored very low on humility, yet very high on openness to feedback. I’m a strong extrovert, so that didn’t mix well. That would have been a lot to unpack if I didn’t have someone to go through that with me. My coach, Bob, helped me to see it from other people’s perspectives, utilize it, and reapply it.
Q: If you were describing to another person, team, or company why they should consider TLG for leadership development – what would you say?
It’s a performance multiplier. The true feeling many of us have in a majority of situations is that this is all stuff we can do on our own. However, just because you can doesn’t mean it is the most effective or efficient way to do it. When you work with TLG and their leadership development team, you can skip steps in so many different areas. You learn from the best of the best from multiple different companies and backgrounds who have been there, done that. It’s like having somebody on your team who has done this before, and seen it done 100 different ways, and can help you and your team walk through it in the best way that fits.
TLG is also good at meeting people and businesses where they are. You think that groups like TLG are only for large companies or companies that have someone who is a problem and want to fix that person. One of the things I’ve seen is that essentially everybody on my team who has worked with TLG are all high-performers and it has allowed them to skip steps. They tend to absorb the information and apply it so quickly – it’s like having multiple people on your team who are accelerating the performance of those around you, which makes your life so much more fun and easier. I’d consider leadership development at all stages of the organization, all sizes. Whether you are growing, big, small, have problems, or don’t have problems! I think it is something that really helps make an impact.
In addition, working with the same coach through multiple roles, companies, and countries has added consistency to my personal development. When you change companies, it can take some time to establish the relationships that really lead to learning and development. It was easy to continue working with Bob even while overseas in London via video just like I was in his office, minus the couch and golf photographs… That allowed me to continue to build on the skills and models that were already in progress while adding in new ones based on new challenges.
Q: What are your future career plans?
This is a hard question to answer because I look at the rest of my career as there being a lot of different paths, and I’m not sure which one it will be. I know the general direction they will head in, but I don’t hold anything too tightly. I owned my own business and it’s very easy to hold something so closely that it becomes a part of who you are. When you get connected to something in that way, I don’t think you make as clear decisions.
I would certainly love the opportunity to be a CEO and grow a company again. I’ve greatly enjoyed the opportunity to work for some great CEOs and learning from them what it’s like to be a new employee and what it’s like to have a boss. It’s something that you take for granted until you are in these positions. It seems easy after you have worked somewhere for 10-20 years, and you don’t realize how much you don’t know. Being able to start from scratch and have peers has been so helpful. I love being able to work at the American Rental Association because it allows me to have a big impact on the entire industry, and that is very important to me. I’m enjoying my time here now and we will see where that goes!
We’d like to give a special thank you to Josh for sharing his time with us in this spotlight. Want to be part of our monthly client spotlight? Reach out to us by contacting Jonathan Palombo, Marketing Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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