The Spring 2018 Champion of Leadership That Works


Champion of Leadership That Works 2018ConantLeadership’s Award for Leadership Champions:

As part of our mission to champion leadership that works in the 21st century, we launched a recognition program in 2016 to celebrate leaders who embody the principles of leadership that works. The Champion of Leadership That Works Award, presented intermittently, but most often 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, several, 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 Spring Winner:

Congratulations to the winner of our Spring Champion of Leadership That Words Award: Sam Thevanayagam, a sought-after leadership speaker, and founder, president and CEO of Parts Life Inc.

Originally from Sri Lanka, Sam came to the U.S. in 1985 at 22 years of age to attend college. He graduated from Glen Oaks Community College and Oral Roberts University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

Sam has 30 years of experience in both entrepreneurship and executive leadership. His first experience with entrepreneurship was washing cars for faculty on the weekends in college. With determination, he worked to advance his leadership career from his humble days in college to his current role as a Founder and CEO. After college, he grew to assume leadership roles predominantly in the automotive industry, including as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) consultant, a Strategic Business Unit Leader and Vice President at Cardone Industries, and Junior Executive at John Keels LTD, before launching his current enterprise as CEO of Parts Life Inc.

Committed to curiosity, learning, and growth, Sam also holds several copyrights centered on modifying best practices in the automotive aftermarket to support military assets. Dedicated to inspiring others, he produced the leadership DVD: “The Recipe for Successful Entrepreneurship & Stewardship Guide.”

As an executive, he is passionate about community involvement.  He has served as a mentor in the Greater Philadelphia Area as part of Inc.’s Entrepreneur Mentoring Program. He also serves on various industry boards including the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Defense Industry Association, the Military Relations Council of the South Jersey chamber of commerce, and many more.

Sam has led his company to achieve impressive success in the marketplace. In his current role as CEO of Parts Life, Sam was notably recognized as a Top 25 Executive of the Year by South Jersey Biz in 2013.  Parts Life Inc.  has also been recognized by the Wharton School of Business’s “Philadelphia 100” list of the fastest growing private companies, and by NJBIZ, the leading business journal in New Jersey, as one of the Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies in New Jersey.

You can learn more about Sam by exploring his full bio here.

Sam’s 3 Guiding Leadership Beliefs:

  1. It’s all about people
  2. Creativity before capital
  3. Practice being a servant leader

3 Powerful Ways Sam Champions “Leadership That Works”:

1. People First

Sam’s leadership revolves around the importance of valuing people, which is notably aligned with ConantLeadership’s belief that to win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace. To bring this to life, he focuses on servant leadership and a people-focused mindset.

2. Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is another important pillar of Sam’s people-centric leadership approach. In a blog about gratitude he wrote, “The sincerely grateful soul is a good person who is always thankful. This personal brand remains affixed in the hearts and minds of those who know you.” True to this belief, Sam has developed a habit of writing thank-you cards. “I believe that saying thank you is often times not enough. I believe that if I am giving thanks that I must give those whom I am thanking more than spoken words. Therefore, I am in the habit of writing thank-you cards.”

3. Resilience

Sam has written thoughtfully about bouncing back from failures and making the most out of mistakes. “I have come to appreciate that pain is a useful guide to shaping future action. It does not cause right behavior, but makes one pause from the experience, therefore shaping future action.” This approach significantly aligns with ConantLeadership’s notion that taking responsibility is always the best leadership choice.

His four-step process for productive resilience is:

  1. Take responsibility
  2. Make it right
  3. Lesson learned – Root cause
  4. Move on

The one message Sam would leave with leaders, above all else? “Learn to be resilient, have faith in God, and do the next thing with excellence.”

Know an amazing leader who has touched your life? Nominate them for our Champion award here.

How do you champion leadership that works in your daily life?  Share with us in the comments, how do you plan to do your next thing with excellence?

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