Zemo Trevathan & Associates, Inc.
To Whom It May Concern,
Jimmy Dixon is a special human being. I’m not an elitist, and I’m not a determinist – I believe that almost anybody can be trained to accomplish almost anything – but even against that democratic and egalitarian ethic, I have to admit that a few people stand out as extraordinary, special people, and Jimmy Dixon was one of those from the first time I met him in the 1990s. The data around hiring and retaining talent has clearly shown in recent years that the quality of the individual matters much, much more than the skills needed for one particular job, and in that sense, Jimmy is one of the people I always want around me, regardless of the job to be done.
What makes him special? Let’s start with character. Jimmy grew up putting in long hours of hard work on his family’s farm in the Carolina’s, and he has never lost touch with that heritage. He’s a pillar of both his family and his community, and he frequently reminds me of his Grandmother’s words to him as a child: “Balance, Jimmy. Do your work well, but never lose sight of your family, health, and the rest of life.” And Jimmy embodies that. I’ve worked with countless people over the years who aspire to that kind of balance and character, but Jimmy lives it, demonstrating again and again the willingness to make the hard choices based on principle, not fear.
And make no mistake about it, his character has translated into excellence in performance consistently over his career. As a leadership development consultant, I have sometimes witnessed and sometimes worked with him as he took on business-critical initiatives and saw them through to completion – even after others had failed, even after “hitting the wall” of impossibility and still creating a way through, even when it required him filling three positions simultaneously to see it through, and even in the face of the looming fact that his success would eliminate the need for his own position… He’s been an All-Star, the A-option in every setting in which he has worked, always keeping his eye directly on the prize: contribution to the company.
Jimmy learns. At first sound, that may sound like a throw-away statement. But anyone grounded in the realities of 21st century business knows that all bets are off. Change has not only accelerated but gone wild, and flexibility, adaptation, and the rigor to study and re-learn what we thought we already knew are now critical skills for long-term success. Having worked intimately with hundreds of leaders, I can look around now at the ones who are still successful, and every one of them is an outstanding learner, including Jimmy Dixon.
And most importantly – to me as an executive coach – is that Jimmy consistently increases the capacity of the people around him, and in my book this is the true deliverable of leadership. It’s one thing to perform, to pull out all the stops and hit an “unachievable” target (which, as I have said, Jimmy does with regularity), but to do this WHILE building and developing talent so that the organization is left even stronger, not depleted… this is the genius of leadership, and the requirement for sustained success. Jimmy does this gracefully and naturally, attracting great people, inspiring them, developing them, all the while applying that dedication to learning, and developing himself as well.
There is a short list of very few leaders, of the hundreds that I have worked with, that rank with Jimmy among those I am most grateful and proud to have worked alongside.
Zemo Trevathan & Associates, Inc. 111 Standing Rock Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
www.ZemoTrevathan.com (919) 929-1917