Jimmy Lynn, Managing Partner, JLynn Associates
When considering what great leadership looks like to me, I immediately think of my 14 years at AOL and the wonderful leadership we had in place — led by Steve Case and Ted Leonsis. When I started at AOL in ’95, we were the third-ranked online service — trailing CompuServ and Prodigy. But, with inspirational and motivational leadership in place, we had a phenomenal run through the rest of the ’90′s that helped AOL become a global brand, one of the best-performing companies of the decade, and resulted in the merger / acquisition of the world’s largest media company, Time Warner.
Ted Leonsis is my mentor and I’ve learned so many terrific leadership skills and business lessons over the past 15 years. I’ve done my best to use those skills while I managed my various teams at AOL as well as interacting with external clients (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, CBS Sports, ABC Sports, and others) and internal clients (the many different internal groups we worked with in our matrix structure). I’ve also incorporated what I call “Ted’s tidbits” in the graduate and undergraduate Sports courses I teach at Georgetown University.
What stands out about Ted’s leadership skills? The items that immediately come to mind are the ability to
- lead and motivate us, our people
- delegate and put responsibility and trust in the hands of direct reports
- clearly and immediately analyze and articulate the situations at hand — and strengths and needs, so we can put strategic plans in place
- inspire others to see the company mission and to work hard to achieve the goals put in place
I used to love watching Ted leave his executive office suite to come mingle with the staff. He’d pop by a cube, introduce himself to a young employee and ask about their work. You should have seen the buzz and excitement that would create — employees were inspired, they felt “included” and important.
Ironically, Ted has shared many of these leadership skills while owning and operating the Washington Capitals, which is now one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Just observe how he’ll navigate the concourse level at Verizon Center … shaking hands, signing autographs, taking pictures, etc. with fans. He also will roam the aisles to meet the fans. What other professional team owners act in this manner? Very few. That’s one of the reasons he’s endeared himself so much to the Capitals and Washington, DC community. And I promise you that he’ll do the same with the Washington Wizards.
In summary, I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to such tremendous management and leadership skills. And, I’ve tried to instill these “best practices” during my days at AOL and now during the courses I teach at Georgetown. In fact, we’re using Ted’s new book, “The Business of Happiness” in the Sports Leadership and Management course. I guess that says it all.
Jimmy Lynn is the Managing Partner of JLynn Associates, a global strategic advisory firm for the Sports, Sports Marketing and Sports Media industries. He was Vice-President, Strategic Development and Partnerships, AOL until March 2009.
When AOL and Time Warner combined, Jimmy became a member of the Time Warner Sports Forum, which included executives from Sports Illustrated, HBO Sports, Turner Sports, AOL Sports, Time Warner Cable, Time 4 Media and Warner Brothers Licensing. The group focused on cross-company sports initiatives.
Jimmy serves on the Board of Directors of the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Foundation; Asian-American LEAD; DC RBI, United for DC, Super Leaders and the Giving Back Fund. He was a charter board member of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance. He is also on the Advisory Board of San Diego State University’s Sports MBA Program, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, the Capitol Movement Project and the Leadership Council of George Washington University’s Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management. He also works closely with the Year Up organization and the Posse Foundation.
Widely and frequently recognized for his accomplishments in voluntary public service, human rights and/or equal opportunity efforts, Jimmy was featured in Washingtonian Magazine last year for the critical importance of his influence to the D.C. area in the sports industry
Lynn is an Adjunct Lecturer at Georgetown University. He teaches Sports Marketing Strategy in the McDonough School of Business and Sports Executive Leadership in Georgetown University’s Sports Industry Management graduate program. He has a B.A. in Public Communication and an M.B.A. in Marketing from American University.