Defining Leadership with Jennifer Thornton

What does leadership mean to you? Everyone has their preferred approach to leadership. But leading a team to reach a common goal harbors its own hurdles causing an arduous journey. At times, a leader may be confronted with unforeseen matters and challenges. As a leader, it is your responsibility to spearhead change and progress for your team and community.

In this episode, Tim Winders invites Jennifer Thornton, a highly-skilled leader and marketing executive, to share her insights on effective leadership. She talks about the essence of balancing both directive and collaborative traits for effective leadership and management. Lastly, Jennifer imparts ways women can step up as leaders despite the overwhelming archaic stereotypes. 

Being a leader is a continuous learning process. Tune into this episode to learn more about defining leadership!

3 Reasons to Listen:

  1. Discover what it means to be a great leader. 
  2. Learn how you can make change happen by being unafraid to question others.
  3. Find out the three reasons why people work. 


Episode Highlights

[03:22] Defining Leadership

  • Everyone has their own definition and perspective of leadership.
  • For Jen, leadership is the respect you show to a group to achieve your goals together.
[03:30] “I think that leadership means something different to every person... For me, it is the respect you show a group of people in order to do something big.” - Click Here to Tweet This
  • Currently, Jen describes leadership as being in a state of confusion where we seek answers to pursue greater endeavors.
  • The difficulties of 2020 have led to the development of directive leadership. 
  • The increase in fear has caused drops in emotional control, decision quality, and collaboration.

[07:13] The Balance in Leading 

  • Leadership is a continuous practice and experimentation process.
  • Directive leadership is needed in cases where you are pressed for time and have difficulty reaching a consensus.
  • Jen recommends a balance of 75 - 80% collaborative and 20 - 25% directive.

[09:13] A Perfect Leader

  • No one is a perfect example of a leader. Instead, the people have pieces of what is needed to lead the organization.
  • Understanding who you surround yourself with is essential in leadership.
  • Learn to leverage experts in every area of your business to pave the way for good work.
[10:50] “You have to understand how to leverage experts as part of your decisions, part of your education, and part of your learning. This is taking that old school saying of ‘surround yourself with great people to what it looks like today.’" - Click Here to Tweet This
  • It’s important to be able to lead people through progress and change.

[14:23] Behind the Name 304 Coaching

  • In pager code, 304 had a negative meaning
  • Jen’s company started when she was invited to pitch immediately, and during this time, starting her own business was not yet a concrete plan. 
  • 304 is her lucky number. It was only supposed to be a temporary name for the upcoming pitch.

[16:52] Growing Into Leadership

  • Jen enjoyed working in the retail industry even at a young age.
  • Jen was able to practice her leadership skills in a multimillion business.
  • After transferring to the HR department, she realized that projects could either fail or succeed depending on the team.
  • Her family has a history of entrepreneurship. She was surrounded by business-minded people.

[22:10] Early Learnings

  • Jen learned that doing the right thing will always lead to something great.
  • Collecting experiences instead of money and titles will lead to what you want to achieve.
[22:31] “You have to collect experiences, not money and titles because those experiences start to add up to get you what you want.” - Click Here to Tweet This
  • Working together is an important part of Jen’s experiences.
[25:21] “What you're getting in trouble for is what you're really good at because you're too much of it for someone. Good leaders learn what that is, and learn how to situationally manage it.” - Click Here to Tweet This
  • Jen is a lifelong learner, but she wants to learn and gain experience in her own way.

[27:38] Speaking Up: A Female’s Perspective

  • Jen being vocal and rebellious at a young age was deemed inappropriate by her family.
  • Leadership roles can begin from the moment children are assigned specific types of chores. 
  • Generally, men are more able to boast the details of their accomplishments, garnering respect within their surroundings.
  • Jen advises women to articulate the results and impact of their achievements to gain respect as leaders.

[36:20] Talent Cliff

  • It starts when the people behind the business are more than capable of starting their company.
  • However, their focus starts to shift towards other areas of business. They stop ensuring that the talent skill stays above the business needs.
  • Fear intensifies, and directive leadership starts, causing their people to turn away.
  • The talent skill goes off a cliff, and the business begins to fall.

[39:34] Reasons For Working

  • Nowadays, there are many different opportunities to earn money.
  • Other than financial reasons, people work to connect with others and grow as an individual. 
  • Another reason is to be able to contribute to something bigger than them.
  • Providing employees with opportunities will attract more people to work for you.
  • Listen to the podcast to learn how employers can support their employees to encourage growth.

[42:10] An Addiction to Being Right

  • People who are set in their ways often believe that they are always right.
  • Leaders who think this way will be inflexible to changes and new perspectives.
  • “I don’t see it, but change my mind” is a good approach to use for a leader when dealing with contradicting views.
[47:41] “Whatever your thoughts are around it, all you have to say is ‘I do not see it, but change my mind.’ Because then you're honest that I don't get it but you're opening up a conversation to learn.” - Click Here to Tweet This
  • By doing this, a leader can create a space where others can defend their perspective and tell their truths.
  • Through a proper discussion, opposing sides can find a middle ground that may work for everyone.

[49:11] Using Annual Reviews

  • Annual reviews can be used as an opportunity to ensure alignment of appraisal between employee and employer.
  • A good leader would reduce fear by encouraging conversations. 
  • Some see annual reviews as a finish line. It gives them a goal and a starting point for a new race to run.
  • It’s a process of continuous learning from others on your team.

[52:56] The Seven Deadly Sins of Leadership

  • These are representations of being addicted to being right in a business.
  • Wrath can manifest through yelling and violent motions in a disagreement.
  • Gluttony shows the development of that addiction to being right.
  • Noticing these seven deadly sins in you can be a sign that you should work on yourself.

[54:56] Making Hiring Choices

  • When desperate for more helping hands, employers tend to hire candidates without checking if they would be a good fit for the job.
  • Hiring the wrong person can be as stressful as lacking manpower.
  • Extra work for the team can cause burnout and exhaustion.
  • Vanity work has no real impact on the business and needs to be cut out.

[57:36] Redefining Success

  • For Jen, success is when you have made a positive impact in your community as a leader.
  • Creating better work environments can create better communities.

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About the Podcast

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Seek Go Create
Redefining Success in Leadership, Business & Ministry

About your host

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Tim Winders

Tim Winders is a faith driven executive coach and author with over 40 years of experience in leadership, business, and ministry. Through his personal journey of redefining success, he has gained valuable insights on how to align beliefs with work and lead with purpose. He is committed to helping others do the same, running a coaching business that helps leaders, leadership teams, business owners, and entrepreneurs to align their beliefs with their work and redefine success.

In addition to his coaching business, Tim is also the host of the SeekGoCreate podcast and author of the book Coach: A Story of Success Redefined, which provides guidance for those looking to redefine success and align their beliefs with their work. With his extensive background, unique perspective and strengths in strategic thinking, relationship building, and problem-solving, Tim is well-suited to help clients navigate through difficult times and achieve their goals.