Monday, April 5, 2021

Leaders: Do You Have Different Skill Sets Than Your Team?


Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing and inspiring leadership and marketing experts. A new connection with a shared passion for leadership from New York is Coach Jim Johnson, and I'm thrilled to welcome him to my blog in a Q&A. Jim’s website is; and his handles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram are @coachjimjohnson. Highlights of our conversation about leadership follow a brief introduction.

Based on what transpired in a few short moments in early 2006, Coach Jim Johnson is now an authority on the subject of realizing your dreams. In his many public-speaking appearances, the New York resident relates his role in a basketball game that got Hollywood calling. He also emphasizes the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, delivering his talks with a heartfelt style that has brought audiences to their feet.

Coach Johnson has developed winning high-school basketball teams for 30 years, taking over three losing varsity programs and turning them into winners in short periods of time. Of his 407 career victories, one in particular will surely never be duplicated. On Feb. 15, 2006, Coach Johnson made the kindhearted gesture of inserting his autistic manager, Jason McElwain, now known to the world as J-Mac into Greece Athena High School’s final home game, which the Trojans won 79-43. J-Mac scored 20 points in just over four minutes, including six three-point baskets, to become an instant national celebrity. Coach Johnson, also, was featured in major news outlets around the country.

QUESTION: What three traits are most important to be a good leader, and why? 

COACH JIM JOHNSON: Here are my three:
(1) Know your who and why. Effective leaders know who they are and their why. They are clear about their personal mission statement and live it consistently. My personal mission is: To be an outstanding role model who makes a positive difference in the world by helping others make their dreams come true. People will follow leaders that have clarity of their personal mission and live it consistently.

(2) Great leaders build trust with their team. I believe effective leaders have a plan on how to build trust with their team members. In our trust plan: the leader must tell the truth, be authentic and admit when they are wrong, and consistently catch team members doing things right and praising them.

(3) Good leaders are servant leaders. They lead by example, consistently growing themselves and serving their team by developing team members to become great leaders.

TWEET THIS: People will follow leaders that have clarity of their personal mission and live it consistently. –@coachjimjohnson #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization's number one brand ambassador?

COACH JIM JOHNSON: To be the number one brand ambassador: the leader must share the team mission consistently. The leader must consistently live the mission and communicate clearly and often to his/her team members so they know the mission and buy into it.

QUESTION: I love your list of what to tell your younger self. Your advice included: hire coaches, regularly meet with like-minded people, find your "Why" right now, develop a personal financial plan, adopt a cause, develop a service mindset, and educate yourself for your family's interests and hobbies. Which of these do you consider to be the most important, and why?

(Here’s the blog title and link: What Would I Tell My Younger Self?  

COACH JIM JOHNSON: What I believe is most important is to continue to grow and improve yourself so that you can effectively serve other people well. (Effective leaders have an intentional personal growth plan.) My personal growth plan is to feed my mind through various ways for at least 70 minutes each day. A few examples: I read for at least 15-30 minutes every day (My goal is to read a book per week), listen to audio programs when I drive and go for a walk, attend conferences, and be part of mastermind groups.

QUESTION: You wrote an excellent post about leading during times of crisis (something every leader should read during the Covid-19 pandemic). Of the many pieces of advice you included, which do you consider the most important, and why?

(Here’s the blog title and link: During a Crisis, Leaders Need to Step Up

COACH JIM JOHNSON: I believe the most important advice during a time of crisis is that you must be authentic, so you keep the trust high among your team. Your team will suffer if trust fades.

QUESTION: You wrote about an interesting role with the title of a Chief Reminding Officer (CRO). Can you elaborate on the importance of this role?

(Here’s the blog title and link: Do Your Team Members Know Where They Stand?

COACH JIM JOHNSON: Outstanding leaders are great communicators. They are consistently reminding their team members about the mission and their core values. Great leaders also are terrific listeners. They are curious and ask many questions of their team. As Ken Blanchard said: Feedback is the breakfast of champions. I would also include lunch and dinner!

QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does that mean to you?

COACH JIM JOHNSON: Effective leaders hire team members that are smarter and have different skill sets from the leader. Great leaders build trust with their team and learn from their team. They empower their team members to excel in their roles without micromanaging.

TWEET THIS: Effective leaders hire team members that are smarter and have different skill sets from the leader. –@coachjimjohnson #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

My gratitude and appreciation to Jim for sharing his inspiring perspective about leadership and the employee experience.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

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