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“Vision, Culture, Climate, and the Leadership that Binds Them”

In the summer of 2008, Jimmy traveled to Afghanistan to visit the Army aviation unit that he his unit would be replacing six months later. While there the Battle of Wanta took place. Of the forty-eight American soldiers at Wanat, twenty-seven were wounded and nine were tragically killed. A Medal of Honor was earned. As a leader observing the battle, Jimmy felt the weight of responsibility like never before. Despite having served two years in Iraq, he had not seen attacks of that complexity. He kept asking himself over and over, “Are my soldiers prepared for this? Have I done everything possible to train them well enough?

Over the next few days, Jimmy realized that what he must do was shape the culture within his organization. He did not have all the answers. He was the leader and responsible for his unit, but he realized that he was surrounded by incredibly talented men and women. In a naturally hierarchal Army culture, Jimmy went about creating an environment where all ideas were welcomed regardless of the rank or experience of the person suggesting them. Jimmy set about empowering his people and trusting them. The results were remarkable. Jimmy’s air cavalry task force swept almost every Army award that year, but not because Jimmy Blackmon did anything extraordinary. He simply shaped an environment in which his soldiers could maximize their own personal potential. Jimmy realized that no matter how technologically advanced we become, life is and always will be about people and relationships.

Through the colorful, engaging storytelling ability that Jimmy is known for, he shares practical, pragmatic methods for casting an organizational vision, shaping culture, and setting a climate that is conducive to success. Vision alone isn’t enough. Jimmy explains how leaders must employ a systematic approach to gain the trust and buy-in of their employees in order to reach their goals and fulfill their mission.

Clients will leave this presentation with a clear understand of the importance of an empowering culture and positive work climate..  

“Targeting Success through a Culture of Innovation” 

Jimmy Blackmon grew up in a hierarchical Army. It was an organization in which leaders with rank and position made all the decisions and provided the solutions to problems. However the wars that immediately followed the attacks of 9-11 changed all of that.  Necessity is the mother of all invention, so the saying goes. The battlefields of the 21st Century demanded speed and empowerment at the lowest levels. Jimmy quickly realized that in order to maximize the potential of his organization he had to create a culture of trust and empowerment- one in which every soldier, regardless of rank or position would offer ideas. The results were amazing.

In this highly engaging presentation, Jimmy shares the techniques he used to shape a culture of innovation. This presentation demonstrates that a hierarchical culture limits organizational potential and diminishes trust. Conversely, the culture Jimmy went about creating led to a climate in which the most junior men and women in his organization felt safe and empowered to offer innovative solutions to very complex problems.

At the end of one of the most battle ridden years in combat in Afghanistan, Jimmy’s organization emerged as the most decorated unit in the Army. “Not because of me, but because of the collective talent of my soldiers,” Jimmy says. “I merely shaped an environment in which they felt safe to explore their potential.”

“Leadership for the 21st Century”

Jimmy Blackmon has led soldiers for over 30 years, culminating as a Brigade Commander in the famed 101st Airborne Division, where he led over 3,500 of America’s sons and daughters in Afghanistan. Jimmy is oft quoted as saying, “No matter how technologically advanced we become, life is and always will be about people and relationships. In this presentation, Jimmy shows the power of inspiration that only comes when a leaders genuinely connect with those they leads, particularly the millennial generation.

Management is about systems and processes. Leadership is about inspiring human beings. Both are vitally important to the success of any organization. Through practical examination, Jimmy demonstrates the necessity of both.

In his formative years, Jimmy was told that leadership is lonely business, but he never bought into that idea. “If you’re lonely you’re not leading,” he says. “You’re mountain climbing.” A leader that does not connect with those they lead will be followed half-heartedly because of position and title. An inspiring leader that develops genuine relationships with those they lead will be followed because they inspire human accomplishment.