John Baldoni is a globally recognized Leadership Educator, certified Master Corporate Executive Coach, and Author of 15 books that have been translated into ten languages. His thought leadership is reflected in his writing and his choice of media: columns, videos and books. Baldoni is also the host of LinkedIn Live’s GRACE under pressure interview series, a platform that has enabled him to interview 100+ global business, academic and thought leaders and doers. His books include Grace Notes: Leading in an Upside-Down World, GRACE: A Leader’s Guide to a Better Us, MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership, Lead with Purpose, Lead Your Boss and The Leader’s Pocket Guide.
John Baldoni was raised in a small town in Ohio, Perrysburg. His father was a physician, and his mother was a community volunteer who then became mayor of their small town. As a child, he studied at a Jesuit institution; wherein the theme of their education revolved around serving one another. Here, Baldoni was first introduced to his passion for serving others and helping them become empowered leaders. He then went to university at Georgetown and decided to travel to London thereafter, where he pursued his aspirations to become a filmmaker.
After Film School, Baldoni migrated to Los Angeles to make his fame and fortune as a filmmaker, which unfortunately did not pan out. He began his career in a fifteenth floor office with a view of a private golf course. Baldoni got involved in marketing communications and unknowingly discovered his passion for writing and leadership coaching during that time. He soon gave up the comfort of his high paying job to start his own business in a beachfront rental spare bedroom more than three decades ago.
He started working as a speechwriter and helped with leadership presentations and speeches. Baldoni said, “I slowly migrated from writing for others to writing for myself. It was an outgrowth of my work as a speech writer and I felt I had something to say and I could teach others.”
In time, Baldoni established a career as a highly sought after Communications Consultant and Leadership Coach, where he had the privilege of working with senior leaders in every industry from pharmaceutical to real estate, packaged goods to automobiles, and finance to healthcare.
Baldoni’s mission statement is, “I help women and men learn to live and lead with greater purpose and more grace.” Grace is a big theme in all his speeches, and he has written extensively on the topic. Baldoni has two books on the subject; Grace Notes: Leading in an Upside-Down World and GRACE: A Leader’s Guide to a Better Us. GRACE mixes stories of everyday heroes with interviews of noted thought leaders. The results are practical insights into generosity, respect, compassion, and the energy and actions to deliver on these virtues.
Grace Notes is his latest book that deals with themes of fear, dislocation, and how leaders need to exert empathy and commitment to others during uncertainty, especially during times such as the pandemic. Baldoni says, “I’m very proud of it, and it is a personal book for me. While the book begins in a dark place with the closing down of society, it ends on a high note as we see how leaders have risen and brought people together for the common good.”
Speaking on leadership during the pandemic, he says, “Well, bottom line leadership is about doing what the organization needs you to do. And when times are good, that’s a pretty easy job, but when times are tough, you have to decide what’s right and wrong. That always isn’t obvious; it’s about choosing two good options or choosing between two bad actions, like closing a facility or laying people off. So leaders have to do what’s right for the organization. They have to put people first. It’s about resiliency.”
He added, “I think leaders have done a pretty good job of that in the past year or so. I think many of the leaders I work with are stronger than they have been in the past because they’ve been tested. This is a pretty challenging time, and I don’t think we’re going to see this kind of a thing for a good long while. Certainly not the rest of my lifetime, but I’m pretty optimistic about the state of leadership.”
Baldoni has used his downtime during the peak of the pandemic to deepen his passion for music. He says, “I learned to play piano as a child. But abandoned it for many years and went back to it a few years ago. But during the pandemic, I’ve had plenty of time to practice.”
He continued, “I’m seeking to integrate music into my leadership work. Music speaks to us on a different plane. It evokes an emotional response and it can be more profound than words. And as a result it challenges us to think and reflect. And the way I use it is I integrate music into my presentation. So I will pose a question to a group and then I will play the piano so they can listen to the music as they reflect.”
His unique work style has garnered much praise; in 2021, the International Federation of Learning and Development named him a World-Class Mentor and added him to its Hall of Fame. In addition, Global Gurus ranked John a Top 20 global leadership expert, a list he has been on since 2007. In 2018, Inc.com named Baldoni a Top 100 speaker and Trust Across America honoured him with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Trust.
In conclusion, Baldoni revealed his mantra, “Be seen, heard, and there. Be seen means let people know you are there. Be heard, state the message and stay tuned. Also, as part of hearing, we must listen, listen, listen; good leaders listen more than they speak. And the final thing is to be there, which means be present, be available, be accessible and again, be willing to listen and be willing to make tough choices.”