Dr. Kim Janson, President and CEO of Janson Associates
How important is leadership? Well, to answer this question we can take a look at this year’s Super Bowl, where veteran all-star Tom Brady’s victor means he’ll be sliding on his seventh Super Bowl ring.
When Brady was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, he brought with him the leadership necessary to take his team, who had failed to make playoffs since 2007 and boasted only one Super Bowl win in history, to a victory many did not think was possible.
As the President and CEO of Janson Associates, a firm dedicated to “unleashing people’s potential globally,” Dr. Kim Janson has seen the power that proper leadership can bring to any organization. The executive coach, and long-time Patriots and Tom Brady fan, has affected nearly 300 companies in over 40 countries, advising, consulting, and coaching presidents and CEOs.
Kim credits her knowledge of leadership to her 40+ years of training horses. As the founder of Zanger Hill Stables and mother of Michael and Hannah Janson, both of whom are national-level equestrian athletes, Kim has spent countless hours understanding horses. Her excellence in leading 2000+ pound stallions in the stables has translated effortlessly to coaching leadership skills for executives in the boardroom.
Who is Dr. Kimberly Janson?
Kim is a force of nature, constantly driving growth, change, and development. With a Ph.D. in Business Administration specializing in Executive Leadership from Northcentral University, Kim founded Janson associates in 2012 after decades of working for large corporations, including Bank of Boston, Hasbro, Heinz, and Bank of America in roles such as Chief Talent Management Officer, Chief Diversity Officer, and Head of Leadership Development.
Today, she shares her expertise with firms ranging from the start-up level to fortune 100 companies that are either excelling and looking to further their growth or struggling and in need of assistance.
She is also a published author with her book “Demystifying Talent Management: Unleash People’s Potential to Deliver Superior Results” and is in the process of creating another book crafted from analyzing the leadership styles of successful CEOs across the globe.
“I’m so fortunate to work with such great people. I love what I do. It’s why I offer a money-back guarantee for my work. I don’t want to be slowed down. I’m so annoyed that I have to even sleep at night,” Kim laughed.
In praising her impact, Yat-Pang Au, CEO of Veritas Investments, a San Francisco based investment firm valued at $14 billion, shared that, “Dr. Kim Janson has the most complete set of competencies, values, experiences, and a certain, what can only be explained as a witchcraft-like understanding of human nature. I’ve had the pleasure of her counsel since 2016. In that time, the company reorganized our mission and culture, expanded to a new region, and experienced tremendous growth with Kim playing a crucial role. I am and Veritas is blessed to have such a trusted consigliere, elite executive coach, and dear friend continue to support and help shape our growth.”
But how has Kim crafted an executive coaching style that is so transformative?
In addition to being highly educated with a wealth of experience, Kim credits her understanding of leadership to her lifetime of working with horses.
“Gaining leadership lessons in a non-traditional venue can make the learning even more powerful,” shared Kim, reflecting on the lessons she’s learned as a globally recognized horse trainer, breeder, and competitor.
“To be effective with horses,” she further explained, “there are a number of strategies that work well to get them engaged and get the most from them. These strategies parallel effective and proven principles applicable for working with and leading people.”
After her decades of working with both people and horses, Kim crafted 10 key themes that are also applicable for leadership.
In a recent chat, Kim shared these key themes, providing her personal experiences as examples:
Kim Janson’s Top 10 Leadership Lessons
- It’s not about force, it’s about influence.
A lot of times, you have leaders in the workplace who are all about command and control. Well, you can control a 2000-pound animal for as long as they choose to let you control them. But if you can influence them to want to perform, that will take you much further than force.
For example, those red and white mints that you can get at restaurants have done more for me in training my horses than command and control ever would. I’ll have horses do anything I want from them as long as I have the promise of the candy to influence their actions. – KJ
- Understand who is in front of you and adjust your style.
What most people don’t know about horses is they are as individualistic as people are. As I go down from stall to stall in the stable, I look at five horses who are very different in nature:
- Marley is just enormous, but you have to whisper to him. He is very sensitive and wants to do the right thing all the time – you need to make sure you are taking that into consideration otherwise you might have unintended consequences in his performance.
- Next to him is Blue – the horse is a wingnut, and he will scream his face off when you come into the barn for a banana. But, this horse is very fast. My son has won a number of Grand Prix events on him because he figured out how Blue wanted to go.
- Quincy, beside him, is the biggest love bug you will ever see, and he is so powerful. He could jump over a house if he wanted to. But he’s a baby. He’s so loving that he wants all the attention. He needs to receive the right amount of attention in order to perform.
- After Quincy is Louis, and he’s a bit of a pickle. He can be grouchy. It’s for one of two reasons. He either doesn’t feel well or wants attention. Knowing him and his tells makes all the difference in the world. If you throw a Louis party combined with a firm hand, you’ll get the most out of him. But he is going to test you!
- And then there’s Cappy, who is just a good soldier. He galloped by me while I was in a field in Chile when he was three months old. He was special from the first moment I saw him. You could say he had high potential and fulfilled that winning state championships and being a top horse in the country.
Every one of these horses is like people in the workplace, if you meet them where they’re at, figure out who they are, and understand their style, you’ll get more out of them. – KJ
- Self-awareness and understanding your own agenda is critical
You can’t bring stuff outside the ring into the ring, if you’ve had a bad day and you get on a horse and bring that energy in, you’re going to create issues. Knowing where you are and understanding what you’re trying to accomplish as you engage with people and horses alike is vital so you can meet them where they are as well. – KJ
- Repetition and consistency are essential to compete with environmental distractions
Training is important, and we often forget that in organizations these days. Just because someone has a title and is deemed to be successful in some way, does not mean we don’t need to do the rigor around training and practice. It’s the same with horses. My horses are worked six days a week here, including being on the treadmill at least once a day.
We treat them like the premier athletes they are, and so repetition and consistency are essential to be able to compete with all the distractions that go on at horse shows. With horses and people, you have to get to a level of performance so that when the unexpected comes, it is second nature to be able to handle the situation with grace. – KJ
- Seeing and sensing before knowing are game changers; subtle shifts can be significant
If you’re coming around the corner and you know the neighbor just let the dogs out and the particular horse you’re with reacts to the barking of the dogs, make a circle – turn the other way so the horse can hear the dogs before running into them. It’s the same thing as a leader. Strong leaders need to look down and around to see what is going to come that might impact the business in order to respond accordingly. – KJ
- Much of the time it is about more or less (reins and spurs)
I often say with business and with horses, things can be made better with a little more or a little less spur, or a little more and a little less reins. Alternatively, sometimes leaders need to take a spur off if their team is already working at capacity. It’s about analyzing the situation and determining what action will create the most beneficial impact. – KJ
- Authenticity or lack of authenticity is felt and known immediately
If you put someone who is scared on a horse, the horse knows it. If you put someone who is a prima donna on a horse, the horse knows it. My kids have been successful because I taught them how to build relationships with horses. It is the same way when you’re in front of people. People will be able to read very quickly if you’re authentic, or if you’re self-interested, or god forbid a narcissist. The need around authenticity is vital for the successful leadership of a team. – KJ
- Respect and trust are the foundation of success
That’s both for your own role and for them – how can both horses and teammates come to rely on and trust you, and how can you as a leader celebrate them, meet them where they are, and not ask them to be someone they’re not? Those are all foundations of success as you build those relationships with teams and horses alike. A lot of times employees are worried about their own skin, and if they don’t have trust and respect in their relationship with their leaders, it diminishes the chances of success. – KJ
- Manage your emotions because the impact is lasting
Emotional volatility and anger hang in the air for a long time, and they compromise trust. Maybe it isn’t frequent, but it doesn’t have to be. With a horse, even if they have only been hit once, if you raise your hand in front of them, they will recoil from you… no matter how many other times you have praised them. Emotions are lasting, so working around positive emotions and celebrations will instill lasting success. – KJ
- Sugar cubes work – the power of reward and recognition
The power of reward and recognition is amazing – when employees are undervalued and underappreciated, this will show up in the results they put forth. Horses are the same, but if you find out what they appreciate and what inspires them, and you will get so much more out of them.
Whether you’re looking to bring these leadership skills into the workplace, the home, the classroom, or the stables, simply testing out one a day will add value to the way in which you communicate with others. – KJ
Dr. Kim Janson’s 10 Leadership Lessons provides her audience with an accessible way to visualize the same scenario played out in alternative ways. Oftentimes, when overcome by the stress and frustration of work issues, it can be challenging to remove yourself from the environment at hand and reflect on it logically. Through the act of referencing horses, professional teams are capable of progressing past pain points and evolving as an organization.
Janson Associates drives success one leadership lesson at a time, and Kim is tirelessly pushing forth in her mission to unleash people’s potential globally. Teams that are seeking to grow to a point of untapped potential will benefit from a free 30-minute consultation with Dr. Kim Janson. There’s nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Just ask her previous clients!
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City: West Vancouver
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