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Turning bosses into leaders

With clients like Air Canada and Xerox, Envision Group helps professionals become the kind of boss everyone wants. 

Envision Group

From working with Malaysian Airlines staff after Flight 370 disappeared to coaching an employee with personal hygiene complaints, CEO Pat Lipovski has helped professionals through some of the most challenging scenarios in the workplace. Pat founded Envision Group over 20 years ago in Calgary after working in sales and encountering good – and not so good – leaders. Today the organization boasts 18 employees, all with significant professional experience. In fact, most are using Envision as their second career instead of retirement and are eager to pass along their learnings to the next generation.  

Rogers Business: Why did you decide to start Envision Group? 

Pat: I was working for a large organization in a sales leadership role and found that we had good and bad leaders within our own company and with the client companies I worked with. It really created a question in my mind: What do you do about professionals who are really great people but need to become better leaders? I decided to go out there and do something to answer that question. And I’ve never looked back. 

Rogers Business: How do you describe what you do? 

Pat: The Envision Group mission really is that we're here to help people, leaders and teams plan and achieve far more than they ever believed possible. I compare it to how young people have the ability to become exceptional drivers. But we send them to driving instructors because they teach the foundation of what we're all supposed to know. And that's really what we represent when people come to us; we’re the foundation.  

Rogers Business: What’s the mark of a good executive coach? 

Pat: The sign of a great advisor, mentor or coach is that they have one too. I've had a coach for 25 years and she's challenged me to see far more than I ever would have on my own. 

Rogers Business: Why is there often a disconnect between bosses and employees?  

Pat: Do you love being told what to do all day? Of course not. Teachers are taught to teach 20% of the time roughly and to be taught back by their students 80% of the time. Why? Because people work harder when they find their own answers. When you’re in school the teacher gives a lesson but after you do group work, term papers, exams and study. Now when we get into the workplace, some leaders forget that and focus on telling, telling, telling, telling. But that’s not the job of a leader, that’s a job of a dictator.  

Rogers Business: How can people improve their leadership skills then? 

Pat: Become an ‘asking’ leader. In the past, when you first started in the work world, somebody told you what to do. And then they threw you the keys and said, ‘go do it.’ We can't do that anymore. That's gone by the wayside. We need to get people teaching us back in the workplace more than ever so that we can develop people faster, develop confidence better and we can have people rise to their potential. 

Rogers Business: What’s been your most memorable coaching experience? 

Pat: Pardon me if I even get a little emotional as I tell you about this because it was a tough one. I was called on by a technology company regarding a person on their team. He was honestly the reason the company became so successful. He worked so hard he forgot to take care of himself. He became obese, developed diabetes and lost his sense of smell. He was the kindest, nicest guy but had an awful body odor but couldn’t notice it. Nobody had the heart to tell him, so they literally flew me out there.  

I lost sleep for three or four nights before I went out there because I had to give this feedback. I told him the reason I’m giving the feedback is that everyone wants him to stay as part of the organization and he’s so important, but this is holding him back. He cried a lot and said he had no idea. We talked a lot and now 12 years later, he runs marathons and is in the best shape of his life. He was probably on the road to a heart attack before this. He continues to be a model employee for the company and now also an inspiration. It’s my proudest moment.  

Rogers Business: What’s the best part of your job? 

Pat: Have you ever received flowers? How did it make you feel? In a sense, that’s what I do. Honestly, my job doesn’t feel like work. And everyone at Envision has the same philosophy. Every single day I learn something new.  

Rogers Business: Where can we find your business online?