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Friday, November 20, 2020

SMART Coaching Works: Here's Proof


Leadership is not a role; leadership is a practice. One does not assume the role of doctor, attorney, CPA, engineer, artist or musician. One practices medicine, law, accounting, engineering art or music. Great leadership is the result of great practice.

At it’s essence, leadership is a set of concrete skills such as selling the vision, delegating, building relationships and coaching. In fact, recent research has revealed that leadership is a set of 22 core skills made up of 79 micro-behaviors. 

Smart Leadership Coaching works for a variety of roles and professions including business owners, executives, executive directors, administrators, operations SVPs, district store managers and regional VPs, store managers, sales directors, sales coaches, engineers, accountants, police chiefs, attorneys, real estate managers, IT directors, maintenance managers, wealth advisers, HR managers, harbormasters, risk managers, regional operators, marketing directors, title company managers, strategic planners, and safety and emergency managers, medical doctors, and nurse managers.  The recipients of SMART coaching work in a variety of industries and organizations including retail, shipping, distribution, sales, restaurant, financial services, real estate, production, healthcare, county governments, nonprofits and more.


I met Peter in 1992 when Trader Joe's hired him to create the Trader Joe's University. Peter, and his business partner Roger, both ran this program exclusively for almost 15 years. During this time I came to know Peter, and was able to both work with him, and watch his results in helping TJ's train and develop the next generation of leaders. 

Peter is an amazing leader, and accomplished trainer. I honestly don't think we could have led the expansion of TJ's nationally without the program that Peter developed and ran for the TJ crew. It allowed TJ's to accelerate the development of the crew, which then allowed for the business to successfully grow much more rapidly. He built the trust of the TJ team through long hours/days together over several years. He was an invaluable partner, both in thought leadership, and personal crew coaching. The program that he and Roger developed was like a personal MBA course in leadership development and training for the TJ crew.

Peter is one of the smartest trainers and leadership coaches I've ever met. He's always hungry to learn, open to new ideas, and willing to really listen and engage with both the team and the organization. People immediately trust Peter, and quickly learn to respect his wisdom and experience. And all of this is delivered in a warm, fun, and engaging interactive environment. Hundreds of management leaders at TJ's today owe much of their success to the tools, training and experience they received working with Peter. And, they had fun while doing it....

I can wholeheartedly recommend Peter as an Engaged Trainer and Leadership Coach! 

--Doug Rauch, Former President of Trader Joe's & Founder/President of The Daily Table
Mr. Peter Mclees has been an organizational and leadership development vendor-partner for the Port of Corpus Christi Authority since 2016. I have participated in multiple leadership retreats, training sessions and other educational meetings which Peter has facilitated and I, along with the Port Authority’s leadership and staff, consider him both highly skilled and effective.
Peter possesses a steadfast conviction that the teams and individuals he works with can and will realize their potential. He provides cutting-edge leadership, team and organizational effectiveness tools that have equipped employees to not only achieve but excel. His programs have helped the Port achieve its business imperatives including imparting a positive organizational culture change that affords the Port Authority the ability to attract and develop top talent.

At its core, an organization’s culture is about relationships and conversations. In his role as organizational coach, Peter has elevated the conversational intelligence at the Port Authority. I believe this will have a lasting impact on all the Port Authority’s stakeholders.

Today’s world is calling for leadership greatness. I’m confident that Peter could assist any organization to tap the greatness of its most important resource—its,

Sean C. Strawbridge
Chief Executive Officer 

I often thought it was hard to find good talent until I realized I had all the raw materials for great talent already inside my company. What was missing was someone to unlock and develop the talent, skills and mindsets that was lying dormant inside our future leaders. 

Peter Mclees knows how to do this and I am so grateful for the having the opportunity to work with him to develop and grow many of our leaders today by helping them understand, practice, game film and put into play things like servant leadership, self awareness, walking your talk, managing to behaviors (not metrics), etc and doing it real life situations that have meaningful consequences on the line. If you are looking for your leadership team to grow I highly recommend and would be happy to answer any questions around Peter's ability to grow talent.
-Steve Hall, Founder of driversselect

 "In 1991 I had been the Chairman & CEO of Trader Joe's Company for three years. All of our stores were located in California, but I thought that we had the capability of expanding nationally. We had a highly motivated store management team, but most of the individuals were not college educated. However, we had one major problem - we had no internal leadership training or coaching program to develop personal relationship and leadership skills. 

I was very cognizant of our company's culture and wanted to preserve it as we expanded. I wanted to make sure that no matter where a Trader Joe's store was located the same inter-personal, training and leadership development skills would be in place. 

I came across Peter Mclees and Roger Moore with Smart Development, which at that time was called Smart U. Working with their people we developed a customized leadership coaching and training for our Trader Joe's people. 

Our people responded very enthusiastically to these leadership training and coaching sessions. The skills that they learned were put to immediate use. The program had an immediate, positive impact on the organization. Individuals eagerly looked forward to each session. They saw the immediate results the leadership coaching and training enabled them to accomplish. 

In 1991 we had 35 stores in California and approximately 800 employees. As of this date we have 180 stores in 14 states and approximately 8,000 employees. I attribute much of the success of our expansion and growth to the skills brought to our people by the Smart Development process. We continue to send our people through the program. 
I strongly recommend this program to any organization seeking to improve its effectiveness."

---John Shields, Former CEO & Chairman Trader Joe's Company

Peter takes a holistic approach when developing individuals, teams and organizations. For example, he facilitated the Port PD in crafting a three-year vivid vision statement aimed at becoming a world-class police department. In his 1:1 leadership coaching with our command staff, Peter equipped the PD leaders to use the vivid vision as a beacon to guide the officers in their charge. Peter coached nine of our command staff leaders with the resulting outcomes:

+ Optimized shift briefings.

+ Developed a field plan to improve officers’ efficiency, safety, and customer engagement while on patrol.

+ Helped the command staff leverage the SEAPORT values to get the best from their direct reports.

+ Elevated the emotional intelligence of command staff and officers.

+ Reengaged tenured officers who had become complacent.

+ Improved the coxswain and dispatch center training programs.

+ Resolved interpersonal conflicts between and amongst officers and command staff.

+ Increased the personal productivity systems of the command staff.

--Tom Mylett, Director of Security Port of Corpus Christi
"I’ve had the pleasure of attending several of Peter’s SMART Development leadership training classes in recent years. These classes provided valuable concepts and information which I utilize on a daily basis. I am also encouraged to not only see my results but the results of others who are consciously putting these concepts into practice and receiving great results. 
As Peter says, the trick is to continuously put these leadership concepts into practice so they become second nature. In addition, I was afforded the opportunity to participate in several one-on-one leadership coaching sessions this past year. These sessions provided significant beneficial leadership development which I have placed a focus to incorporate into my daily communications. Thank you, Peter for conducting your training with enormous energy, enthusiasm and conviction. Your leadership and coaching sessions have made a beneficial impact on our organization."                                                                                                        
 --Daniel J. Koesema, P.E.
 Port Corpus Christi Director (PCCA) of Channel Development

"I have had the pleasure of working with Peter off and on over the course of the last 15 years. Peter is an excellent leadership coach without a doubt. I particularly admire his sessions on leadership in general that are both theoretical as well as practical. He strikes a great balance there with professionalism and humor. He connects quickly with his coachees and has always been willing and able to push them in new and more positive directions. Peter has a thirst for knowledge himself as well which makes him open minded and a flexible thinker. I have a ton of respect for what Peter can do." 

--Glenn Backus, Managing Partner, Revolution Brands

"My one-on-one coaching sessions with Mr. Mclees provided valuable leadership training that I will carry with me on and off the job. I gained better awareness of my supervisory coaching, mentoring, leadership responsibilities, and the importance of prioritizing my time to meet and coach my subordinates. 

Through these coaching sessions I learned that subordinates are all different and as such require different methods of coaching; or as Mr. Mclees puts it, “one size does not fit all”. This I found to be true in my coaching sessions with two Sergeants. One exhibited a Growth Mindset while the other a Fixed Mindset, each required a different coaching approach to help build better leadership habits. 

We also saw a change of heart in an officer during the second workshop. The officer explained that during the first workshop he had not bought in to the training and was reluctant to participate. He explained that his attitude changed when he realized the benefits and knowledge to be gained through the Best Practices Workshop.

Once more I want to thank you for facilitating this invaluable training. I look forward to the next round of leadership training."

--Police Lieutenant 

"I have been fortunate enough to use Peter in the past to help me develop my leadership skill set and solve specific leadership problems. Peter has run leadership courses for us in larger groups, and has also worked with a subset of our employees, including me, in one-on-one coaching. Peter is extremely thoughtful and consistent in his approach to leadership development, and provides a great accountability partner without being overbearing. I would not hesitate to recommend Peter to anyone who is trying to develop an accountability-based organization or solve individual, specific leadership problems!"

 --Kent Britton 
Chief Financial Officer

“Smart Development created bottom-line results for our team of production and distribution supervisors and managers. At the end of the coaching program the reduction in overtime, the gains in production, and cost savings in just one work day were enough to cover the cost of the program.

We continue with these savings daily.  In terms of safety and sanitation our food production facility has never looked better. Their supervisors are confident, competent, fully engaged with company goals, and work together as a team.”

--Mark Harding, Former SVP of Production Farmer Bros.

Peter is many things, among them an excellent leadership coach, master motivator, and great storyteller. He has a rare ability to energize and invigorate his audience when speaking about topics ranging from the grandiose to the mundane. I have enjoyed each session spent learning from him, and look forward to more in the coming years."
--Collin Carson, Store Manager Trader Joe’s

I have attended two SMART Training Programs while at Farmer Brothers and have personally benefited tremendously. These courses have reshaped my thinking on motivating others to perform at their very best, and to become a better sales leader. In this day in age of declining human interaction skills because of technology, this course is vital to any sales organization that is interested in their employees. I realize that many do not like to attend seminars because they assume it will be boring but this course is far from it. Peter is a master at making his presentations lively, entertaining but yet educational. I particularly enjoy the fact that Peter engages the entire group in the material and discussions. My only regret is that I will not be able to attend the third SMART Training program because I have shifted my career focus; however I know that the entire Farmer Brothers sales team will continue to benefit from the program. It is with great confidence and my privilege to highly recommend Peter McLees and the Smart Development Program.

--Steven Lopez, Vice President of Market Expansion and Sales at  PICK UP NOW

 The coaching with Peter provided me gave me a lot of insight and the necessary tools to be a more effective leader in this organization.

I have started practicing prioritization using Microsoft OneNote to Set Daily and Weekly Priorities. I organize my priorities using “Ivy Lee Three-Step Planning Process (A’s, B’s and C’s).”

I have also started training other managers and employees how to use OneNote by using the Prioritization process as an example.

I have also used coaching to manage my direct reports addressing performance issues and conducting a organizational core value exercise with them. I asked them to pick one and “describe how you’ve acted consistently or may have missed an opportunity to act consistent with a company core value.

---IT Manager

“Our restaurant managers loved the SMART Development leadership coaching and training classes presented by Roger Moore and Peter Mclees. Our people were very engaged. They took lots of notes, asked lots of questions and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Our managers were able to roll up their sleeves and drill down to real world problem solving. The buzz at the break was they all wished they had gotten the management coaching and training much sooner. We will offer SMART development coaching and training more frequently because of the great return on the investment.”

 I appreciate the coaching I received from Peter regarding my Key Performance Indicators. The KPI’s enabled me to focus on desired outcomes such as planning and prioritizing, setting goals, keeping your boss informed, coaching for new employee, etc. In turn, this has tremendously helped me and the organization become more efficient and effective. 

Peter helped me with ideas on how to manage and keep our vendors on track. We now have bi-weekly conference calls to discuss their progress and action items."


The coaching has been an excellent resource for my professional development at my company. The program has helped me prioritize my time and department tasks, manage interruptions, enhance my soft skills, and most importantly help me coach my team to improve our effectiveness. I have implemented weekly 1:1 coaching session with my employees to advance our communication and prioritize tasks. 

Coaching has helped me recognize the importance of establishing clear expectations with the team so we can collectively be successful as a department and meet the Executive Team expectations. In addition, my 1:1 sponsor coaching sessions with my supervisor have also been very helpful with building our rapport and managing priorities for my team.

I look forward to continue my coaching as I lead the effort to optimize our business process with other departments. By enhancing the process we can improve departmental collaboration, efficiency of workflow, and provide better customer service for new and existing customers.  

"I have know Peter since I started as an entry-level supervisor for Trader Joe's in 2003. From the first time I met him to just recently, Peter has made a tremendous impact on my career development. As I developed into new positions within Trader Joe's, Peter was my coach and trainer at every step. 

While attending Trader Joe's University classes with him, he brought a combination of humor, engagement and collaboration to the classroom. He understood the challenges that we had in the stores and was a great resource to brainstorm with. I recall one time shortly after I was promoted to Captain (store manager) and I was having a difficult time with my assistant manager. Peter coached me through the process and helped me fill my toolbox with communication tools and strategies to improve the situation. 

Peter is truly committed to the classroom training experience and has a genuine interest in people's personal development. He incorporates fun and motivating activities to keep classes interesting and exciting. I would highly recommend Peter as a leadership coach and trainer."

---Jennifer Eno
Sr. Program/Project Manager, Global Supply Chain, Business Operations at Dell

Hi Peter. I was so thoroughly impressed with your facilitation skills and the program you developed for our group. This was the best offsite that I have attended during my tenure at the Port. There is hope! I’m anxious to review with my team the materials from the retreat. 

---Heather Morris, former Director of Communications
Port of Long Beach

"Peter is an excellent leadership coach with the ability to teach through applied learning. Using practical examples, he coaches for leadership success in dynamic, stressful and changing environments!"

--Sarah Garza
Port Corpus Christi Director of Environmental Planning and Compliance

“I credit Smart U with helping to generate an unprecedented growth in sales and revenue in our chain of warehouse stores. Specifically, we grew from 200 million to over billion in sales. Our company developed a loyal following of repeat customers because Smart U coached and trained store management to enable associates to deliver great customer service.”

 --Robert Emmons, PhD
 Former Chairman and CEO, Smart and Final Stores

"Peter's coaching provided me with some resourceful ideas in time management and how to best deal with delineation of duties when the lines are sometimes blurred. Peter made coaching something I looked forward to-he's thoughtful, reflective and on point!"

--Rosie Collin
PCCA Director of Community Relations

"I had recently started a new position in a supervisory role, when the opportunity to receive one on one coaching from Peter was presented, it proved to be very fortuitous. He offered insight and avenues of interaction that proved invaluable in my new role. Peter helped facilitate dialogues that allowed me to impart upon each employee the true importance and impact of their jobs, and emphasize the critical role they play every day in the success of the Port."

--Russell Cordo PCCA Harbormaster

“Smart Development equipped our people so they could be promoted from within to grow the company through acquisitions, new store openings and increased same-store sales. When we first started working with Smart Development, there were only 30 stores. Today, graduates of Smart Development leadership coaching and training programs lead a chain of over 735 rebranded beauty supply stores.”

-Wayne Taylor
Former VP, Store Operations  Maly's Salon-Centric Stores

"I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the opportunity to participate in the most recent round of coaching provided by Peter.  It was enlightening, insightful and extremely valuable to me. Through Peter, I was able to have more engaging and open dialogue with my staff and learned additional tools to help other managers communicate effectively with their employees. One thing that has resonated with me since meeting Peter was something he said: even professional athletes have coaches to continue to hone their skills and be the best in their field. A program like this has been long overdue for the our organization, so I am sincerely grateful for the support and leadership in this development initiative."

-- Manager

My first engagement with Peter McLees from Smart Development was on a project for the development of a new brand within the family of Giant/Martin’s Food Stores. Our vision was to develop our brand and culture, so our customers would have an inspirational food shopping experience. Peter spent numerous sessions before our formal team training getting to know our aspirations and goals for this new approach to food retailing. From these sessions, Peter was able to custom design a week-long training session with our project and team leaders and the results were incredible. 

The feedback and results from the training were phenomenal and beyond our expectations. Compared to previous group training (s) and team formation events; Peter’s program delivered highly interactive and engaging sessions that were custom built for our vision of our brand/culture fusion. 

All the participants expressed their appreciation for Peter’s level of preparedness, his facilitation skills and his creative and skillful delivery of the learning objectives. Peter brings a level of personal touch and business experience which is both refreshing and inspirational. I would recommend Peter for any of your coaching and development needs. 

The team at Giant Heirloom Market has had an exceptional experience with him and we will continue to utilize his expertise in providing ongoing coaching and development for our leadership team. I strongly recommend his services. 

--David Goodyear Human Resource Business Partner Giant Heirloom Market 

Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant

Take the Next Step... 

Interested in learning how leadership coaching and training can benefit your organization? We begin with a collaborative discovery process identifying your unique needs and business issues. To request an interview with Peter Mclees please contact: 
Email:  or  Mobile:323-854-1713
Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. 

Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

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