I Am A Leader: Stephanie O’Banion’s Thoughts on Leadership

Welcome to the I Am A Leader blog series, featuring leaders who make a difference. Today’s guest blogger is Stephanie O’Banion. Stephanie has been the President/CEO of the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce for over 10 years. While her degree from Texas A&M University is in Elementary Education, she has focused on community development for the last 20 years. After living and working in Temple, Fort Worth, and Abilene; she is now doing what she loves most in her hometown. Stephanie and her husband Guy live in Belton with their 4 legged child Otis.  

“What is wrong here at this workplace? Where did the growth and excitement go? Why can’t I accomplish the things I want to accomplish? Why does it seem our motivation has leveled off? Why are the employees bringing me great frustration by not achieving goals and not having any self-initiative? Where is my joy? Maybe my time here is over. I don’t want to become ineffective for the organization and the community. I don’t want to be one of those executives that did great things, but then everyone says has stayed too long. But what would I do next? I have no idea. I need help.”

This was me 4 years ago. I felt lost. I loved my work. I have a passion for my community and the work we do at the Chamber of Commerce, but I had found myself in unknown territory….key word being UNKNOWN. I contemplated other employment but deep down I knew that would not solve the problem. At this point I asked myself, “when was the last time I had any personal development training? What have I done to change this situation in which I find myself? Where is my accountability?” This is where my real leadership journey began….and how exciting it has been.

Bill Moyer has provided leadership training for our program called Leadership Belton for over 10 years. I asked to meet with him to discuss the Chamber, my role, and our staff. As I began sharing where I saw myself and the organization, I remember having tears because I truly did not know what I wanted next! I knew at that point if I wanted to see change, I had to choose to change myself on purpose. Bill became my Executive Coach, providing me one on one leadership development that has spilled over to the Chamber staff, Board of Directors, and membership.

The first time I was asked to think about my vision statement, the goals I have, where I see myself in the future, and how I want to lead, I thought I would rather hit my head into a brick wall…that was a huge challenge! I was determined. I worked through managing time, setting goals, protecting those goals and time, becoming an influential leader, personal planning and evaluation. After a year of doing this, I began to see real change and clarity in my life, both personally and professionally. I could better articulate what is important to me, my goals, my vision in life…I did not think it was possible! Now I see there is a lot of work to do! Next step? Let’s get this team moving!!

Bill began a leadership development program with our team that over the last 3 years has made a profound impact on our organization and our personal lives, while also having a significant impact on our community. It’s as if we needed some help adjusting the lens on our internal camera. We have developed a culture in our office that emphasizes positive behavior, expectations of results, and clearly defined vision, purpose, and goals. The growth this organization has experienced and continues to experience is something we never could have imagined prior to taking this journey together.

The me that I am now is one who believes you must live your life ON PURPOSE. Discovering your purpose is more about the journey than the destination and you must choose this path on purpose EVERYDAY. My way of thinking, working, and living has been profoundly changed, and I know what I want more than anything is for those around me to have this same opportunity…to become the best version of themselves so they too can impact the world around them.
My personal purpose statement is “to seek wisdom and be prepared to serve and meet the needs of others through work, home, and community; developing relationships to glorify and fulfill God’s great purpose and plan in my life.” This was not easy by any means. It took a great deal of time reflecting and thinking to discover what is important, much less articulate it in a purpose statement! I am committed to this journey of growing from “success to significance.”
Now our Chamber of Commerce team has a shared vision, purpose, and mission. We set measurable goals together. We see the fruits of our labor rapidly developing and the impact it is leaving in our community. The enthusiasm we share for the difference we see is contagious!
I know now that my time here is not over…yet. There is still work to do together in our community! With a defined vision and purpose, we stay focused on our goals, we take time to benchmark, and we are committed to continuing this journey. One of my favorite quotes by Joyce Meyer is, “I’m not where I need to be but thank goodness I am not where I used to be.” I know this journey of living a life of purpose on purpose is a renewed commitment each day, and I encourage you to stay the course as you strive to be a leader who makes a difference!

A special thank you to Stephanie O’Banion for sharing her insights about leadership with us today! Stay tuned every Friday as the I Am A Leader blog series continues. Please share this blog post via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter using the #iamaLEADER hash tag! You can connect with SOS Leadership on Twitter here and the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce here.

Check out all of the I Am A Leader blogs here!

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