Admired Leader Interview - Jim Stoik

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 15:24


Jim Stoik 


Vice President of Internal Audit (recently retired) 


Erie Insurance 

Year CPCU Completed 



Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign 

Number of years as leader 



What are the top skills a leader needs to have? What’s the best way to build them? 

I believe a leader needs to be able to think critically; clearly communicate vision and passion for their subject matter; and demonstrate empathy and humility. Some of these skills may come naturally and just need to be refined, while others are developed through experience. 

How do you build rapport or trust among a team? 

If the team believes you have their best interests at heart and share successes with them, you’ll earn their trust. Once you feel comfortable, delegate more responsibility and accountability to the team members…you will be amazed at what can be accomplished. 

What’s the most rewarding part of being a leader? 

The most rewarding part of being a leader is seeing your team members grow, both personally and professionally.  The Internal Audit function at Erie Insurance has become a source of talent to the rest of the organization, which tells me we’re making a difference in growing high-quality employees.   

While serving as a leader is rewarding, it can be tough. How do you stay fresh? 

If you want to stay fresh, you must guard against complacency.  Just as we have to challenge our employees to continuously raise the performance bar, so too must we. I like conducting skip-level meetings with each of the front-line staff in my department to learn what my management team and I are doing well and what we can do better.  I explain to each employee that they are in charge of the meeting and I welcome their candid feedback on how to improve our work environment (rather than just complaints). These meetings always yield at least one idea or viewpoint that I hadn’t thought about. 

If you could go back in time, what piece of leadership advice would you give your younger self, before undertaking your first leadership role? 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but always learn something about those mistakes so history doesn’t repeat itself.  Also, people are much more likely to forgive your mistakes if you treat them with respect, work hard, and take responsibility for your actions. 

Comments (0)