The Optimal Leader

We specialize in strategic planning, leadership development, and team optimization. We use a variety of organizational development best practices, productivity tools, and world class assessments to help our clients attain their goals



We use systematic strategies and approaches to enhance organizational productivity and individual well-being. Operating from an “organization as dynamic system” perspective, we offer the following interventions at mid-size to large companies and government organizations:

  • Planning and Strategy

Clarity of purpose is foundational. Every organization benefits from deciding where it will focus its efforts in the short and long term. We believe that strategic planning works best when the process is easy to understand and grounded in an the organization’s vision, values, and culture. We will help your organization to focus, make better decisions, and be accountable to its commitments. 

    • Change Management

    Change management involves the continuous process of aligning an organization with its marketplace and doing it more effectively than the competition. We work with our clients to create systematic, planned programs of change that address the continuous synchronization of the key “levers” of strategy, operations, culture, and reward. Change is the work of leaders and not for the faint-hearted. But, it is the people in the system that make change successful. We help leaders and their teams align and create change together.

    • Retreat Design and Facilitation around Organizational Priorities

    Partner with leaders and their teams to focus and deliver expected objective and results with thoughtful designing, facilitating and evaluating expected outcomes for critical leadership retreats. We believe in meetings are only a good use of time if work gets done and relationships are strengthened. 



    Leaders need to use various leadership and relational styles. These improve performance and enhance relationships. We work with individuals to deepen an awareness of the vital skills that are required to move ahead. Executives and mangers learn how to identify and improve leadership gaps – and then create strategies to close them.  If any of the following are areas for development – we can  guide you to success.


    Leadership is an observable set of skills and qualities that are useful whether you are the CEO or a front-line manager. Any skill can be strengthened, honed and enhanced. Leaders are more critical to our organizations now than ever.

    The challenges of today’s rapidly changing business conditions require a cohesive learning and working environment.  At the Optimal Leader, we evaluate leadership potential and design and facilitate targeted training and development solutions that are business-focused, practical and interactive.

    Our custom programs begin with the concept of SELF-LEADERSHIP. Knowing who you are, what you can do and where you are going, coupled with the ability to manage your communication, emotions and behavior on the way to getting there. This leadership competency is about personal mastery and creates a strong attitudinal and skill foundation for effective management and leadership.

    “The most effective leaders are aware of what ‘makes them tick’. Their internal values are demonstrated and communicated through their behavior.”
    Ellen McGinnis

    Another aspect of our leadership development programs is PEOPLE-LEADERSHIP. Optimal people-leaders, get the best from people by connecting their intrinsic motivators with the goals and vision of the organization. Communication is at the heart of a learning organization and this skill develops the ability to communicate even in the presence of conflict and diversity.

    There’s no “I” in Team. Another key element of our Leadership Development Programs is bringing together individuals of different styles and skill to work together towards a common goal.  TEAM-LEADERSHIP is a critical competency which emphasizes bringing people together and empowering them execute the company’s vision, mission and objectives.

    STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP is a fundamental requirement in today’s global economy. Strategic leaders take a larger perspective; utilize critical thinking, planning and make decisions that place the company and their reports in the best position to execute.

    Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
    John F. Kennedy


    At the Optimal Leader, we use Personality Assessments to help develop people. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses — personality assessments are one way of uncovering those traits with an objective measure.  Once we pinpoint the strengths and areas for development, we can then place our coaches in the right position and coach them on ways to improve.
    What Are Personality Tests?

    Measuring personality (psychometrics) dates back to the early Greeks but it is only very recently that psychologists and management theorists have agreed on what can be measured and its effect in the workplace.

    There are many Psychometric and Personality Tests available in the marketplace and it can be difficult to make a decision as to which one to use. At the Optimal Leader, we have been certified in many assessments and use a few to help our clients optimize their leadership skills.

    The Enneagram

    The Enneagram is a personality typing system that consists of nine different types. Everyone is considered to be one single type, although one can have traits belonging to other ones.

    The nine types (or “enneatypes”, “ennea” means “nine”) are universally identified by the numbers 1 to 9. These numbers have a standard way of being placed around the Enneagram symbol.

    At the Optimal Leader, we use the Enneagram to help our clients to deepen their understanding of their mental constructs to lead optimally. Once we understand out mental constructs (also known as mental models) we begin to determine what beliefs or ideas serve us and help us to become our best selves and what beliefs hinder our growth and development.  

    Everything DISC ®

    Everything DiSC is not a test, it’s a personality assessment. This research-validated model helps you understand yourself and others, saving you time, energy, and money. Better employee communication means efficiency on both individual and company levels.

    DISC provides personal insight into behavior preferences and inclinations. The foundation of DISC was first described by Harvard Professor, William Martson as published in his book, Emotions of Normal People (1928).  His theory describes how people respond to their environment.  In the 1970s, John Grier developed an assessment based on Martson’s work, which is still today called the DISC.

    Have you ever wondered why some people just don’t get you? Or ever thought “I cannot even begin to know what my boss needs—even when I ask her, I still don’t know.”

    Most of us have felt that way at one time or another! The good news is there’s a simple tool designed to help you understand yourself AND other people too. Everything DiSC® helps you build more effective working relationships based on an understanding of different behavioral styles.

    strongER togetheR


    Is Your Team Cohesive? 

    Understanding how to communicate and how your team members prefer to work is a critical component to team effectiveness. We offer DiSC Workshops to help your team increase cohesiveness, move from unproductive conflict to productive conflict and learn successful methods to influence.






    Optimize is from the Latin optimus. It literally means “the best.” Ellen McGinnis is passionate about helping leaders and teams become the best they can be. She is the senior principal at The Optimal Leader.  Ellen brings over 20 years of consulting experience from multiple industries. She has held leadership positions at General Electric Capital, ACS, Inc., and Saba Software. In addition to her corporate experience, Ellen has honed her leadership capabilities through personal commitment to self-exploration and personal development. She believes that the most effective leaders are aware of ‘what makes them tick’ and leverage this awareness to help others succeed. Ellen’s education includes an MA in Organizational Psychology from JFK University and BA from University of Dayton. She is an ICF Certified Coach and Certified Enneagram Coach. She is qualified in a number of psychometric assessment tools such as MBTI and DISC. She has lived internationally and brings a global perspective to her work. She currently resides in the Seattle area and works with clients all over the world. 

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    We specialize in strategic planning, leadership development, and helping teams optimize. We use a variety of organizational development best practices, productivity tools, and world-class assessments to help our clients attain their goals.