Connecting with our Community: Tom Andrews of TJA Leadership

March 29, 2021In SD BlogBy Lauren Espineli

For trade professionals, Studio Designer’s Connecting with our Community webinar series proved to be a useful and highly informative series of interviews with top designers and brand leaders. Not only did Studio Designer CEO Keith Granet bring in top designers and major vendors to speak, but he also called on business leadership coach Tom Andrews, president of TJA Leadership, for his insight on how designers can navigate dramatic changes in the business landscape.

Keith has fostered an important professional partnership with Tom for many years on his own career as well as industry wide efforts with his The Leaders of Design Council. Tom works with the “captains of all industries” to teach mindfulness, how to lead with courage, and what tools are needed for effective leadership. Tom teaches what he calls transformational leadership—the kind of guidance where you “empower people based on a vision and you’re relying on motivating people.”

Tom remarked that current events made him think that “Nature is giving us a time out to think about what we’ve done” and perhaps an opportunity to reset priorities. He pointed out that the pandemic as forced the whole world into a surreal limbo of sorts that has “crushed” all our separate lives all together—family, school, and work and the hardest part is the uncertainty of the future. Tom is surprised in a lovely way by the increased togetherness boosted by video chats and the irony of the crisis that “should be pushing being apart is bringing people together.”

Tom remarked that current events made him think that “Nature is giving us a time out to think about what we’ve done” and perhaps an opportunity to reset priorities. He pointed out that the pandemic as forced the whole world into a surreal limbo of sorts that has “crushed” all our separate lives all together—family, school, and work and the hardest part is the uncertainty of the future. Tom is surprised in a lovely way by the increased togetherness boosted by video chats and the irony of the crisis that “should be pushing being apart is bringing people together.”

As far as his own specific advice for the workplace, Tom emphasizes that “transformation” for him means empowering people based on a vision. He described how it departs and improves upon the more conventional “transactional” leadership driving most businesses. Tom is all about promoting creativity and would like business leaders to ask themselves this question: “What could I make far more efficient in the way we work that we never gave ourselves permission to do before?” As someone who has witnessed firsthand the success of teamwork, he uses the acronym SMILE to describe the key factors of teamwork—structure, mutual accountability, inclusive communication, learning, and esprit de corps.

View the recording of the Tom Andrews interview here, check out the full collection of Connecting with our Community webinars, or read a blog post about the entire series.

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