As we mentioned in our November Featured Instigator article, we have decided to help our readers get to know our Instigators and their incredible work on a more personal level by highlighting a new Instigator each month.
This month we are featuring Founder and President of DialogueWORKS, John R. Stoker.
John first got involved with Lead Change when Becky Robinson, Founder of Weaving Influence, managed the relaunch of his book, Overcoming Fake Talk.
He has a BA in English and Philosophy, a Master’s of Organizational Behavior (MOB), and a Juris Doctorate degree, what he calls big speak for attorney. After finishing his MOB degree, John worked for a few companies. Then he went back to school to obtain his law degree. He practiced law for a few years and then was talked out of his law practice by some professors that he had been a graduate assistant to. After working in their consulting and training firm for over five years, he became tired of the politics and broken promises and set out on his own.
When asked about one leadership lesson he learned from his first job, he shared: “Having strong relationships with a number of people is the key to getting things done when you don’t have authority. Knowing how to influence others can be more powerful than authority.”
John says one of the best moments he has had professionally was the day his book arrived in his office from the publisher. John and his wife sat down on the office floor, opened the box, and wept. It had taken great sacrifice and the project had finally come to fruition.
When asked about the strangest question he’s ever been asked in a job interview, John said, “Someone once asked me, ‘Why I had run the river in Grand Canyon so long?’ which was rather surprising.”
John recommends What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith as the most helpful professional book he has ever read. One thing John feels should be taught in school that isn’t already is effective conversation skills. He explains: “Folks are still afraid to talk about what matters most, so they don’t.”
One of John’s favorite quotes is:
“We don’t see things for how they are, but for how we are.” He says the best advice he’s ever been given is, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
John loves trying new things and doing things that he hasn’t done before. Doing such things becomes the impetus for thinking differently. He continues, “I was involved in a large change project to help LMCO build the F-16 more quickly. Watching how individuals and teams worked together and candidly shared what wasn’t working was an amazing experience. Collaborative efforts really increased everyone’s ability to make the needed changes that greatly improved their results.”
If money was no object, John would spend all day writing and discovering new ways to help people be more effective. He considers leading by example, compassion, courage, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication to be the most important qualities in a leader.
If he had to hashtag his life, John’s would be: #dontgiveup.
Thank you, John, for this opportunity to get to know you better!
Editor’s Note – You may ask, “How does one get chosen to be a featured Instigator?” The answer is simple. If you are already an Instigator, fill out this form and continue to engage with the Lead Change Group on a regular basis. If you are not yet an Instigator, sign up. There are many benefits to being an Instigator – email us if you want more information.
Previous Featured Instigators:
11/2015: Sean Glaze