Kenny Leahman

Founder, KEL Institute

“Make choices based on What Matters. If it doesn’t matter, let it go. Keep focused so that your everyday actions are purposeful and rewarding for you, others and the world.”

What led you to start The KEL Institute?

I had an extremely fulfilling and impactful 24-year career at CIA. When I retired from the government, I needed to find another opportunity to continue to make a difference and literally change people’s lives. Educating and mentoring others has always been a passion of mine and highly rewarding. This passion grew through exposure to great teachers, travel to over 72 countries and all 50 US States, and from living abroad for 18 years. It peaked during my two years in Afghanistan and while teaching at “The Farm,” CIA’s premier training facility. Less than a month after retiring, I established my consulting practice and began teaching and advising teams and leaders around the world. I launched The KEL Institute to give back by providing unique education and coaching derived from lessons I learned while adapting every two-three years to constantly shifting global locations, cultures, work environments, teams and leadership paradigms.

Can you give us some examples of the scope of your work?

My coach and training clients are private, government and corporate individuals, teams, leaders, and organizations across the US and throughout 25+ countries. Focus areas include Executive Leadership; C-Suite alignment and learning; team development and performance; corporate change; national and international security; career development; cultural mindset; global workplace challenges, etc.

What are your most popular workshops?

The most popular workshops have become What Matters?; Doing Well By Doing Good; My Planet, Your Planet (coupled with the DiSC Workplace assessment); and Start|Stop|Continue. Our seminar that combines all of these over several days has been described as the “best educational experience” participants have ever had.  The Intelligence Agency Techniques for Business Operations and Strategies workshops are also extremely popular and fun.

 How have your clients’ needs changed over the years that you’ve been coaching?

Clients are demonstrating a growing need to be relevant and to expand their competitive advantage, whether as a private individual stepping into a new career, an executive leader in government, or the CEO of a 4,000-person profit-driven multi-national corporation. Budget constraints are more real than ever, so expenditures for training and development must generate positive return on investment and demonstrate added value.

In the global climate of 2019 what do you think is the most valuable skill for teams to develop?

The global climate of 2019 is definitely complex, challenging and confusing.  It requires thoughtful consideration by teams and leaders about how to apply existing skills in new ways.  To remain competitive, profitable and successful, teams now more than ever require the ability to adapt quickly to change, or “VUCA:  Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.”  The KEL Institute provides an effective, dynamic workshop called VUCA Awareness and Strategies; What Leaders and Teams Need During Change.  This seminar teaches teams the skills needed to identify and assess their own VUCA, and to develop strategies, techniques and procedures to confidently and competently navigate disruptive, scary moments of change to a “VUCA Positive:  Vision, Understanding, Confidence and Agility.”

The most challenging moment of your career?

I volunteered for 90 days to serve in Afghanistan and stayed for two years in the early stages of the Global War on Terror.  Upon arrival, I was assigned to be Chief of a critical Forward Operating Base (FOB) on the eastern border with Pakistan.  I had zero military experience, but was now the leader of a highly diverse team of hundreds of people — including US and Afghan soldiers —in the heart of a war zone.  I was armed with weapons but did not feel armed to lead this mission.  I’ve never faced a more daunting task or experienced a steeper learning curve. This still remains the greatest growth period of my life. A constant focus on integrity, values, mission, camaraderie and team helped assure that I fulfilled our mission with success and honor.

And a moment in your career that you’re very proud of?

I’m extremely humbled and proud to have been awarded several Meritorious Unit Citations during my government career, but am most proud of my participation on a team that thwarted a foreign weapons of mass destruction development program. Our collective efforts literally changed the course of history and saved numerous lives. This and other significant moments in my life are the impetus for my need and desire to do things that matter.

Why you think the partnership with Enigma will be complementary to both parties?

Enigma is all about people with great, innovative ideas, products and services. The KEL Institute is all about educating, coaching and inspiring people to be even greater contributors. People who actively work to enhance their and their team’s performance, and adopt values-based living and leadership, will naturally generate, develop and provide better “everything,” including better ideas, products and services.

Enigma Alliance Founder & CEO, Stuart Page, and I view this is as a perfect partnership because The KEL Institute education and coaching programs lead people to an honest awareness of their personal and professional performance.  Partnering with us, clients can and will identify factors that improve and/or inhibit productivity, establish precise goals & expectations, and develop tangible techniques to assure that they and their people become more efficient, effective and engaged individuals, employees and leaders.