Changing Leadership With Kelly Tomblin
"I watched a team transform in five years and we came together in a way that I think can be duplicated in any company and association. I wanted to honour what we have done and at least give an idea of what I think can be done in the world," said former CEO of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), Kelly Tomblin, who launched her first book, 100 Days Of Doing Power Differently, Change Your Leadership, Change The World, last Friday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
Flair got the exclusive details on what inspired Tomblin, who by many is seen as a petite yet energetic powerhouse, to share her depth of wisdom on what it truly takes to be an authentic leader.
"I've been a leader for a long time," declared Tomblin, who started leading her first team in 1993. "I've grown up in the energy world and it is primarily a male industry. I was a lawyer at the time and I found myself replicating what I had seen in the world. That kick-butt type of leadership. I was going to be tough and be decisive and I was going to get stuff done," laughed Tomblin, who later explained that mindset ultimately led to her demise.
"One day in 1999 somebody said to me, 'you know Kelly, you're destroying people's lives'. It really hit me because we all think we are nice people. I took a step back and had a lot of leadership coaching and really started reading." Tomblin explained that being a lawyer and the holder of an MBA did not make her a leader.
"The minute you become somebody's boss, you become one of the most important people in their life, and you don't even deserve to be. It requires you to bring your masculine and feminine together. You need to be able to get stuff done, but you also need to be able to bring love to that," she said. After that daunting interaction, she began studying other prominent leaders and tried a different approach to leading.
It took over 10 years of growth and her experience in Jamaica to grasp what it meant to be a leader. "My heart was really broken open in Jamaica and I wanted to be different. I wanted to be worthy of my job. I've noticed and felt during my time in Jamaica how we were able to create something different and special at JPS. I think it was based on the idea that we learned to care about each other in a different way."
The book consists of a few stories on leadership, which focusesd on Tomblin and her co-author Kathleen T. Sullivan's experiences. The core of the book is based on a new model of leadership, which is called Think Love.
The Think Love model consists of 10 subsections which include: True self, integration, navigation, knowledge, energy, vulnerability, optimism, listening, trust, and higher purpose. Each section is broken down and analysed within the book for persons to obtain a better understanding of the model. "These are the things that we think are the characteristics of true leadership, and in the foundation of that is you discovering your true self," said Tomblin.
The book has 100 reflections on the categories mentioned, which enable readers to look into themselves. It also has pictures and quotes directed at inspiring persons reading the book. "I thank my co-author for that because this book would be very dull if I didn't have her to organise it."
Tomblin admitted to Flair the bulk of her inspiration for this book came from her experience at JPS. "I was American and I led 1,700 Jamaicans. Those Jamaicans could have made this job very hard for me and they chose not to. From that experience, I thought they deserve the best I had to give," said Tomblin, who was near tears with the love she felt for the people within the company. "You have to be solid. You can't shrink, you can't puff up. You have to be strong and centred and maintain your holy ground while running JPS. These people gave me the privilege of leading them and it didn't go by me. I was a guest in the house, and when you are the guest you owe them something."
We are all here to serve each other is the mantra which Tomblin lives by. "If we all have the idea that we are all the same no matter what our age, skin colour or lot in life, magic can happen. When I watched it start to happen while I was at JPS and watched people come alive and really bloom, I became fascinated with it. If you have enough courage to love enough and make people accountable so much can happen," she said.
This workbook is a reminder that leadership is a whole body experience and you have to work at it to be better at it. "If you are going to run, you need to run every day. You have to practise and work on it. Leadership is an honourable and sacred experience and many of us are not working it," said Tomblin.
The book 100 Days of Doing Power Differently is finally available. "People kept asking where is the book, so I knew I had to write it, and it is finally here," said Tomblin as she proudly held her first of many books to come.