Everything I needed to know about Leadership I learned from Ami James


One of my guilty pleasures is watching tattoo shows.  It started with National Geographic’s Taboo series about tattooing in other cultures and then spread to Miami Ink on TLC.  I think my obsession comes from the fact that it is absolutely amazing how detailed these artists can make their drawings considering they are making it under the skin.  Ami James was one of the owners of the Miami Ink studio and is now on his own show called NY Ink.

Ami, hands down, is the worst leader I have ever seen.  Let me list off some of his leadership traits:

  1. He has a violent temper that can erupt at a moment’s notice.
  2. He swears to make a point and puts people down during every argument.
  3. He does not try to foster young talent.
  4. He dumps his problems on his employees.
  5. He hires his friends, then treats them like his employees, but wants them to keep acting like his friends.
  6. He expects people to just do whatever he says because he is the “boss.”
I think that’s a pretty good start.  When you read the post title you probably thought I was going to show you a great leader, someone to aspire to.  Sorry to disappoint.  But, what I have learned over the years is it is almost easier to learn from the worst than it is from the best because you can stop doing something wrong, but sometimes it is hard to mimic the positive traits in others.
I want to talk about #3 for a moment because I feel this is Ami’s worst trait.  He hired a woman (Jessica) to serve as his shop manager.  Now, typically a title like that means she is in charge of all areas of the shop and has authority over other members in the shop, but not the artists.  Jessica has a MBA and used to work as an executive in a bank.  She has expressed a desire to learn to tattoo and is actually a talented artist.  However, every time she tries to learn more, she is sent back to her “box” to deal with appointments and clients.  Jessica also has a temper and every time this happens she argues, complains and has a terrible attitude with everyone she interacts with.  Ami regularly complains about having too much work and not enough time to get back to Miami to see his family; this would be the perfect opportunity for him to train someone to take some of the workload off of him as well as reduce some of the hostility that flies around the shop.
Ami’s shops are successful because of the fact that he is on TV and manages to get some of the best artists in the business.  He succeeds in spite of his failures as a boss.  Most schools (actually no school) would not survive under this type of management style.  School leaders need to hold themselves to a higher standard and be the leader they want to see in others.  Teachers need to remember to do the same because you don’t need a title to be a leader.  If you want those around you to work hard and dare to fail, then you must do the same.

Walk the Talk!


1 thought on “Everything I needed to know about Leadership I learned from Ami James

  1. Ms Roy

    Great post! I think another point about Ami that could be made is that talent doesn't necessarily make someone a great leader in that area. For example, the best teachers don't necessarily make great administrators.
    (Titles should be italicized)



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s