Beyond the Boardroom: Elliott Counseling Group's Lainey Emmons

·3 min read

Jul. 24—BTB Emmons 2

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Lainey Emmons is chief operating officer of Elliott Counseling Group. (Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette).

All in all, as global pandemics go, COVID-19 could have been a whole lot worse for the Champaign-based business LAINEY EMMONS helps lead.

"It made things different and required us to rethink a lot of policies and procedures in place before it, and despite it being challenging to rethink and redo, it wasn't harmful," says the chief operating officer at Elliott Counseling Group.

"It's just different. Our business structure had to be flexible to survive, but we embraced it and have been successful through it. In our industry, we knew so many people were depending on us for their own wellbeing throughout the pandemic, we owed it to them to rethink, redo and keep going and we've continued to serve our community successfully."

A Centennial High grad who now calls Urbana home, Emmons joined Elliott as a business manager five years ago last month and was bumped up to COO three years ago this September at the mental health and wellness center on West Clark Street.

The dedicated crafter, animal rights advocate and holder of three college degrees took time out to answer questions from in the 138th installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting leaders of organizations big and small.


My one unbreakable rule of the workplace is ... meet others with kindness and respect, even in the face of a mistake.

On my office walls, you'll find ... diplomas, family photos, pictures of my pets and a memento from a loved one that reminds me I'm a magical unicorn.

When it comes to my philosophy on meetings ... I'm not one for "wasting time," because I know how valuable every minute can be. And yet, I know how valuable unplanned, or flexibly planned, meetings are.

Not meeting with your team for long periods of time is dangerous. You become disconnected from your team, lose vital moments to check in on them, and get a pulse on how they're really doing that doesn't send well in an email.

Lainey Emmons

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Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette

I value semi-regular meetings, even if spaced out, so you can get a check-in on team members. Having an agenda, but not having every second accounted for, allows time for natural conversations and an opportunity for organic information you might miss otherwise.

I'm frugal in that ... things don't have to be used in their conventional way to be amazing.

Repurpose things. Paint things. Bring things back to life.

The hardest thing about being a leader is ... my mind moves a mile a minute and is filled with ideas on how to solve things, but sometimes you have to just be quiet, stop your mind from finding "solutions" and just be with someone and support them while they find the answer themselves.

I can't live without my ... team. Seriously, if the team isn't here, it isn't a job I can do.

Each team member holds a vital role in the day to day and I can't imagine trying to do it all without them.

Plus, they're pretty fun to be around.

The three adjectives I hope my staff would use to describe me are ... kind, dedicated and brave.

I wind down after work by ... laughing with my family and cuddling with my pets, reading and watching a TikTok or two ... or dozens.

When it comes to the worst job I've ever had ... I haven't had any jobs I would consider the "worst," and I've cleaned up a lot of animal poop in my past jobs.

They've all had great teams, great opportunities and have taught me a lot so I'm grateful for each. Although, I'm pretty happy to not clean up poop every day anymore.