16: Leaders with Heart Know That They Have an Obligation to Grow the People They Lead

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When I ask leaders about where they got their motivation to lead comes from, a lot of them talk about their parents, one or the other, or both.

I had my mother and grandmother, and they both were very strong, independent and hardworking women. They really formed my work ethic and value system early on.

Our guest for today shares a similar story, which you’ll hear in the first part of the episode.

Tim Hinchey is President and CEO at USA Swimming. Tim is a dedicated sports operations, sales and marketing leader with over twenty years experience creating and nurturing successful relationships. He is focused on collaborating daily with both internal and external partners, sharing a vision for success and delivering results. As well, he is goal-oriented with a true hands-on approach to leadership and motivation.

In this episode, we talk about Tim’s leadership journey, whether leaders are born or made, transparency, authenticity, and following the golden rule – to name a few.

We touched on a lot of topics in this episode, so click the play button to listen!

Tim Hinchey became the CEO of USA Swimming in July of 2017.

Over the course of his career as a sports business executive, Hinchey has held leadership positions in the United States and the United Kingdom for organizations such as Major League Soccer, English Premier League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and junior and minor league hockey franchises.

In his role as President of the Colorado Rapids, Hinchey led the club to both on- and off-field success. In 2016, he was named Major League Soccer’s Executive of the Year.

Hinchey’s international experience includes a three-year term as the Vice President of Commercial and Chief Marketing Officer for English football club Derby County FC.

Before heading overseas, Hinchey served in executive positions for the NBA Charlotte Bobcats and the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, as well as serving as Director of Strategic Alliances for Maloof Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Sacramento Kings.

His start in professional sports began with the Los Angeles Kings in 1991 and continued with sales and marketing roles with the Tri-City Americans junior hockey club and the IHL Utah Grizzlies. Hinchey went on to serve as Director of Strategic Alliances for Maloof Sports & Entertainment, where he developed strategic plans for all corporate partnerships integral to the NBA Sacramento Kings, WNBA Sacramento Monarchs, WISL Sacramento Knights, ARCO Arena and Senior PGA Tour Gold Rush Classic.

Hinchey volunteers as an assistant swim coach for the Special Olympics Aurora Waves swim team and served on the Community Leadership Board of the American Diabetes Association of Colorado from 2013-16. He is a Board member of the Industry Advisor Committee for Insight Centre for Data Analytics based in Ireland, Arsenal Broadband Media in London and FanCompass in San Francisco.

A native of Danville, California, Hinchey went on to earn a B.A. in Economics while a four-year letterman swimmer at UC Irvine and went on to serve as a graduate assistant swim coach at the school. Hinchey and his wife Mia are the proud parents of six children.

Learning From His Father

Tim’s father, a successful executive, has been a really important figure in his life.

“At the same time, he was very spiritual. He grew up as an Irish kid, in an Irish Catholic family. He did everything – he coached some of my teams. He’d work hard, and we never felt, as a family, anything but a priority to him. And yet, he was an incredibly successful executive.

So I think early on, his discipline, his engagement, watching him speak in front of groups, watching him do things for our family was certainly something that fell across my desk. I think growing up in sports in particular, and especially as I got into swimming later, him sitting down with me and setting goals and opportunities – that’s all part of the makeup of who we are as leaders, when you get that at an early age from your parents.

As I got into college and joined swim teams, it always felt natural to want to be one of the captains or be part of the group. Even though I wasn’t the most successful swimmer by any means, I always felt like I could contribute through leadership opportunities.

Are Leaders Born or Made?

“I do actually think they’re born. Having said that, I think it’s also our responsibility, if we are the leaders, to find opportunities and platforms to help people get better, help people improve. And if we are good leaders, then help a few become better managers in particular, or at least leaders of their area or their business, or whatever aspect of life’s important.

I still think that can happen as well. I think that we’d be remiss not to find ways to engage with those people. If we’re fortunate enough to be seen as natural leaders, I still think it’s our responsibility to pass that forward, to pass that on as much as possible.

I think it’s a combination of both, but again, I’ve always felt like I always want to take a little risk and put myself out there. Whether it was as class president, captains of sports teams, individual project leaders – it was always something I was comfortable doing.”

Internal > External Relationships

For Tim, transparency is very important. He tries to provide as much access as possible.

I’m a big Starbucks fan – people know that about me – and they built one just outside the gate of the training center. So every single employee had to sign up for a walk with me to go have coffee, on me, and we get to spend an hour together just to get to know one another.

I’ve done 88 of those one-on-ones so far, primarily just so you get to know who’s here, who’s the guy in the corner office. I don’t want to be the jerk in the corner office that thinks he knows what he’s doing to lead our company. I want to have a real, authentic relationship with people. That’s first and foremost.

Building those relationships internally can be even more important than some of our major external relationships. Click To TweetBe more open, be willing to take that two-way communication to the next level. Click To TweetTreat others how you’d like to be treated. #goldenrule #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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