Our Summer Champion of Leadership That Works


Champion of Leadership That WorksConantLeadership’s Award for Leadership Champions:

As part of our mission to champion leadership that works in the 21st century, we launched a recognition program this year to celebrate leaders who embody the principles of leadership that works. The Champion of Leadership That Works Award, presented seasonally, is one way to say “thank you” to people who are visibly committed to empowering others to serve with greater impact. All potential recipients of the award are submitted to us exclusively through nominations from our community. Nominators can recommend leaders who excel in any one (or all) of the 7 practice areas of the ConantLeadership Flywheel; if you know somebody amazing, you can nominate them for the award here.

Our Summer Winner:

Jesse Lyn Stoner

Jesse Lyn Stoner

Congratulations to Jesse Lyn Stoner, winner of our Summer Champion of Leadership That Works Award! The entire ConantLeadership team has thoroughly enjoyed Jesse’s exceptional contributions to the leadership conversation on her blog for a while, so we were delighted when she was nominated by Fay Kandarian as an exemplary leadership champion. After we took an even closer look at the breadth of Jesse’s work, principles, and passion, it became clear she was a highly accomplished leadership practitioner and thought leader — and immensely deserving of our Champion recognition.

Jesse has championed leadership that works throughout her career as a business consultant, executive, and bestselling author. She was nominated, specifically, as a shining example of the 4th pillar in the ConantLeadership Flywheel, “Build Vitality.” Fay, in her nomination, referred to Jesse as a, “coach, beacon, and guide” to leaders. After a thorough audit of Jesse’s work, we emphatically agree and find that her gifts for inspiring people to lead with vision, competence, and character are noteworthy and undoubtedly help to “build vitality” at the personal and organizational level.

The Top 3 Things That Make Jesse a Champion:

Collaboration. As Founder of the Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership, Jesse has expertly woven the principle of collaboration into her organization’s core beliefs. By championing an inclusive approach to leadership, she helps leaders to, “seek new ideas and approaches” and, “embrace diversity and actively seek to understand all perspectives.”

Vision. Over the past 20 years, Jesse has worked tirelessly to assist hundreds of leaders to understand the power of vision, and to clarify their own, as they develop collaborative leadership skills and build high performance teams. What’s more, she literally wrote the book on the topic, co-authored with Ken Blanchard: “Full Steam Ahead! The Power of Vision.” She generously shares her considerable expertise on the topic, always wanting to help others learn and grow.

Purpose. At ConantLeadership, we believe the best leaders are anchored in a higher purpose that guides their actions. We were struck by Jesse’s devotion to the noble purpose of helping leaders to build organizations that “make a positive impact on the world.” Many consultants promise to help deliver better shareholder returns, or cut costs — but it is rarer to find people committed to making a positive difference in the workplace and the world at large. She also consistently celebrates the importance of purpose in her leadership ideology, challenging leaders to find the “why” in their work, and pushing them to always do better.

Use your values to guide your daily decisions. – Jesse Lyn Stoner

Q&A with Jesse Lyn Stoner:

Our champion, true to her spirit of generosity and contribution, was kind enough to impart her top tips for leaders.

Q: What are your top 1-3 tips you would give to a leader who is looking to deliver results in a quality way?

Jesse: Are you looking for short-term results or sustainable results? You can probably muscle your way through almost any short-term situation though a combination of charisma, evoking people’s fears, and making vague promises. Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many instances where it collapses like a house of cards down the road.

If you want sustainable results, start with being clear about the purpose of the results you want to deliver – knowing the “why” and keeping it in mind. When your desired end-result is connected with a noble purpose, it gives your actions meaning and helps you stay committed.

Then as you proceed, always keep your desired end-result in mind. Remembering the bigger picture keeps you from getting lost in the details, provides the context for important decisions, and helps navigate obstacles along the way.

My third tip is to use your values to guide your daily decisions. If quality is really one of your values, your results will naturally be of high quality.

Remembering the bigger picture keeps you from getting lost in the details.

You might be asking how this advice is different for leaders vs. individual contributors. Actually, it’s not. As research has shown, leaders “model the way.” Whether you are in an official role of “leader” or not, if people understand and resonate with where you are going, they will want to participate. You might get compliance if you simply tell people what to do, but you won’t get commitment. This is true for whatever sphere of influence you are operating within – as the CEO of an organization or a member of a project team. And an individual contributor just can easily rise up as a true leader when they model the way using these three tips.

Q: Is there a lesson you learned from a crucible moment in your career, or from overcoming adversity, that might help 21st century leaders?

Jesse: After many years as a consultant to senior executives on strategic initiatives, I had an opportunity to step into that role myself. I had been consulting with the board of a new company that had a good business plan but the wrong senior executive. The board asked me to step into that role temporarily to support the needed turn-around and to give them time to search for the right leader for the long-term.

When you’re in the trenches, it’s not nearly as easy as it looks from the outside.

It was a powerful and humbling experience. As much as I understood about strategy and leadership, I discovered that when you’re in the trenches, it’s not nearly as easy as it looks from the outside. The smartest thing I did was sit down with my senior team, ask them how we could make a go of it, and then really listen to them. I had to let go of a lot of my own ideas about how to proceed. There’s no cookbook formula for knowing exactly when to let go and when to push. My major ah-ha’s were:

  1. When you’re in a highly visible role, you are going to be the target of a lot of people’s projections. You need to have a strong sense of where you’re going and a thick skin.
  2. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  3. You can know all the best theories, and right methods of leadership, but in the end, leadership is about who you are and how you show up. You need to be guided by your heart as well as your head.

About Jesse Lyn Stoner:

Jesse Lyn Stoner is a business consultant, former executive, bestselling author, and award-winning blogger. She was named a Top 50 Leadership Expert by Inc. Magazine, a Leader to Watch by the American Management Association, and has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the Huffington Post.  She is the co-author with Ken Blanchard of the international bestseller, “Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision.

In addition to founding the Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership, Jesse was a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies for 20 years. She also served as the chief executive of the Guest House Retreat and Conference Center and of the Berrett-Koehler Foundation. Learn more about Jesse’s professional bio here, read her blog here or send her a word of congratulations for winning this award on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.

Know somebody amazing who deserves recognition? Nominate them as a Champion of Leadership That Works! 

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