Confession: I don’t spend very much time or energy thinking about the importance of leadership or leadership development for JB Media Group. It’s not that I don’t think that leadership is important, it’s more the opposite. I have become so focused on building my own ability to lead the company that leadership and leadership development has become part of my daily routine and is becoming ingrained in our company culture.

In operating a small, client focused marketing agency with a very thin management structure, I have actively recruited independent, self motivated, highly responsible staff who exhibit strong leadership traits. As I find leadership development tools that work for me, I pass them on to the team. In a recent joint interview with an original team member I was described as more of a leader than a manager, and I’m happy to say that I can say the same of her.

Investing in Leadership

I often look back at certain decisions and say “that was the best decision I ever made” at key turning points for JB Media Group. I have recently realized that in order for the company to continue to grow and succeed, I will have to raise the bar and continuously make the right decision on a larger scale and with more on the line. In order to embrace that challenge, I must continue to develop my own leadership abilities and, perhaps even more importantly, grow the overall leadership capacity of the company by both developing internal talent and by recruiting new talent that fits within our organization.

One of the “best decisions” I made early on was applying for Leadership Asheville. I made the decision to apply in our second month in business. Like most start-ups, the company was losing money and I wasn’t even sure we would still be in business a year later when the program ended. At the time I could not afford the tuition and doubted I had the time required to complete the program. But I did it anyway. I reached out to family and friends for support and made the commitment not just to the program, but to myself as well.

In my Leadership Asheville class, I was one of the youngest members representing one of the smallest companies. During the program, I learned a lot about the Asheville community, however the greatest lesson for me was that within a group of nearly 40 future leaders I was able to make a significant contribution even as a twenty-something owner of a new business. Problem solving, listening, critical thinking, organizing, and team building skills were recognized and appreciated by my Leadership Asheville class no matter who contributed them to the group, project or process. Despite our differences – background, experience, industry – we all worked together to make our community stronger.

Continuing the Cycle

Three years have have passed since I applied for Leadership Asheville. Last week, the project manager who started at JB Media just weeks before I started my program, Leah Quintal, graduated from Leadership Asheville. She is the third graduate from JB Media Group, in what we plan on being a long line of Leadership Asheville participants. In the week since graduating from the program, she has expressed her interest in taking a more significant leadership role in charting the company’s direction and future. In a recent email she shared the personal leadership philosophy she developed while in the program. It embodies not only her own approach to leadership, but the basis of the Leadership Asheville program and how we work at JB Media Group. I look forward to seeing what impact she and the rest of Leadership Asheville Class 32 will have in our community.

In leading we are never alone. All great ideas take a community to realize.
Leah Quintal, Lead Data Analyst and Project Manager, Leadership Asheville 32