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Leader’s Skills Praised By Jones

May 18, 2008  •  Post A Comment

TelevisionWeek’s Cable Executive of the Year, Kathy Johnson, is the queen bee at NAMIC, the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications. Ask James C. Jones, vice president of education programs, which is what TVWeek did.
“Kathy is a wonderful colleague to have. I could use the word boss, and calling her colleague is by no means taking away from that relationship which we have. She works in a collegial fashion. She is an inspirational person,” said Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones, a St. Louis native and Harvard graduate, joined the NAMIC team in 2005. That was when he first learned what kind of a leader Ms. Johnson is. “She is down there in the trenches with you, even if it’s 9 or 10 o’clock at night when we’ve got a deliverable and she looks around and sees that some help is needed. She is a team builder and a team player par excellence,” he said.
Leadership has been the theme and legacy of Ms. Johnson’s tenure as NAMIC president. She leads by example. According to Mr. Jones, “I can’t think of a leadership style that I’ve encountered that is more likely to produce the kinds of results and the kinds of deliverables we’re called upon to produce for the industry.”
There are a number of NAMC leadership programs that have been created under Ms. Johnson’s auspices. In conjunction with the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, NAMIC started the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP). “That was 2001 when it began,” said Mr. Jones. “It grew out of a conversation with the executive leadership right after the launch of the first research, where those who sat in the middle to upper middle executive ranks said we need the kinds of programs that speak to our own experience as executives of color, as we try to negotiate this very tricky and constantly moving and fluid environment we call the cable industry.”
ELDP was created because NAMIC wanted a program that spoke to members. “Is there something that addresses the hard business side—like finance, marketing, research? How, as a leader of color, do I take these tools and leverage my leadership and my success in the organization?” said Mr. Jones. “We just graduated our seventh class, and we’ll begin shortly recruitment for our eighth class of executives.
“Executives are nominated by their companies and then are put through a very rigorous selection process to become part of this class. It is without a doubt the gold standard for such programs in the cable industry.”
As an outgrowth of ELDP, the Leadership Seminar was founded in 2005. With the support of the Walter Kaitz Foundation, this two-day regional seminar targets managers and supervisors of color. “The question asked was, we’ve got this wonderful opportunity with executives who are out and just stepping into those extensive responsibility areas. Is there something that’s in the pipeline?” said Mr. Jones. “What do we do with the next few levels down, in terms of preparation—career preparation, skills preparation…. What can we do for those who will be stepping into those positions vacated by those who are that mid-senior level now? We created a two-day model using some of the same faculty and themes. This is a model that we take around the country. In 2008, we’ll roll this out in four markets.”
NAMIC also has a Webinar series called the Leadership Suite. “It owes its existence to the ELDP. We began with the idea of NAMIC establishing footing in the virtual space in terms of distance learning, a way to reach our constituency where they live and where they work,” Mr. Jones said. “The way to do that was in their digital space. It uses technology as a means of bringing to members the vast knowledge of thought leaders who, through their vision, business acumen and wisdom represent the communications industry brain trust.
“We threw it open to the membership at large. It was an opportunity for some powerful learning with a thought leader. Then we took a step back from that and decided to do a second Webinar. We came up with the idea of doing four Webinars, at the same time we were looking at our executive coaching,” he added.
“We were giving 25 graduates of the ELDP the chance for one-on-one coaching,” Mr. Jones said. “The problem, a minor one, [was] what about time. Getting enough time with the coach. We moved them to the Web, too, as executive coaching Webinars.”
Cable television, in front of the camera and behind, would not be what it is today without Ms. Johnson’s leadership of NAMIC. She’s made her mark. “I can certainly see it on the cable industry,” said Mr. Jones. “In the three years I’ve been in the cable industry, what I’ve observed and what people have told me, Kathy’s leadership in the NAMIC infrastructure is especially evident in the leadership programs, like ELDP. The success we’ve had with that program is clear. We know, thanks to research.
“Under Kathy’s watch we’ve launched a biannual research piece that really takes the temperature of the industry and helps chart a course for diversity within its practices, and these are all thanks to and attributed to Kathy’s leadership and are acknowledged as such,” he said.
NAMIC’s proven success is Ms. Johnson’s success, because she has been the prime mover in the TV business and the organization. “I wasn’t around when Kathy joined NAMIC, but it’s very clear to me that in those 20 years her imprimatur has certainly been indelible,” said Mr. Jones. “It’s there in everything we do, not only the culture of the organization but the dynamic of our relationship with any number of communities outside of NAMIC and within NAMIC, from vendors to our executive community to the membership, our constituencies from top to bottom. I say that in the most respectful fashion without class distinction. Someone in the call center who had interaction with Kathy would have [as much of] a positive sense of her style as someone sitting in the executive suite.”

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