What makes a leader inspirational?
Business Record Power Breakfast
Thursday, June 07, 2012 7:00 AM
Watch Paul Rhoads address a group of Iowa State football players after a big win, and there is little doubt that he is the leader in the room.
Rhoads, the head football coach at Iowa State University, has had his leadership ability on display in several highly viewed YouTube videos after improbable Cyclone victories.
Not everyone’s inspirational moments are quite as public as those of a football coach. Rhoads joins three panelists with well-developed leadership credentials on the Business Record’s Power Breakfast panel next week.
The Business Record talked to each of the panelists to get a better idea of their style of leadership and what influenced it.
What is your leadership style?
Paul Rhoads: I think that the responsibility of a leader is to elevate the people around him. I think I’m constantly trying – whether it’s with coaches or players – trying to make them all better in every facet on a daily basis.
Angela Franklin: I typically follow an approach that comes closest to what is in the literature about servant leadership, and I probably subscribe to that approach more than any other approach. The whole focus of servant leadership has to do with leaders being in the position of being of service to others, as opposed to being served. So it really is more of a hands-on, collaborative style of leadership.
Timothy Orr: My guiding principal in leadership would be what I call servant leadership. I think (that is) because I work for the public, and more importantly, I represent the men and women who are sons and daughters of people out in our communities. I think how that affects me is, leadership is a privilege that I think I have to re-earn every day. There is no expectation here that once appointed as a leader that you are good forever. I work every day trying to earn that respect and leadership.
Bill Leaver: Leaders are great leaders because they create followers. You create followers because you create credibility. How do you create credibility? You do that because people trust you to do the right thing. You are honest with them, and you’re fair. I’ve always been kind of guided by that mindset of, if I do the right thing and I communicate that, if people understand that I’ve been honest with them, and they believe I’m fair, then I will create credibility. And people will trust my leadership.
What has been the greatest influence on your style of leadership?
Rhoads: I think the greatest influence would be my parents and a whole host of coaches that I either played for, coached for or coached with. I think (former Drake University and Utah State University coach) Chuck Shelton, who is the first coach that I worked for, sticks out because he was a CEO before that particular style was popular. He ran the program. He didn’t coach anything. He ran the program. At an early age, that was good to see.
Franklin: I think I’ve had a number of mentors along the way. I think the person that probably had the most influence on me was the president of my alma mater, David Shi, (former) president of Furman University. I watched him during the time I served as a member of the board there. I think the approach that I saw in him in terms of how he led that institution was very similar to the approach that I adopted. Some of it is just instinctive; it’s me by nature. I really like to engage with people, like to get to know people. He had a similar interpersonal style that was probably just who he was.
Orr: It’s my past assignments and the fact that I grew up from a private through the noncommissioned officer ranks through the officer ranks. I’ve held almost every major rank in the Army. I think the past has shaped me for who I am today.
Leaver: I think experience. I’ve read a lot of books. You read about various leaders that we’ve had, political leaders and business leaders. You can read books on leadership, but I don’t think anything replaces doing it. And having the experience and having tough decisions to make, making those tough decisions and explaining them to people. That experience I think has taught me to be an even more effective leader. Learning and gaining that kind of experience has been very, very helpful.
What is one piece of advice you have for other leaders or aspiring leaders?
Rhoads: I think you have to observe. I don’t think it’s about constantly acting, and giving orders, so to speak. I think you’ve got to sit back and observe and see things and form your opinions, and move forward from there.
Franklin: I think the one thing that’s probably the most impactful is being a good listener. I think that’s something that people genuinely appreciate: a leader who is willing to hear and allow people to have an opportunity to be heard.
Orr: Set the example, live the values, live your organizational values. And do the work. From my perspective, I have a very unique position because I put men and women in harm’s way every day. From a leadership perspective, they expect me to set the example, to lead from the front and to do the right thing in both good and bad times. That means I have to be a leader of character.
Leaver: I think that the more that people can gain that experience, the better. You can gain that experience; you don’t necessarily have to have the title or the position. But leading a project, taking responsibility for a certain aspect of your company’s activity where you are put in a position of having to plan or lead or control what is going on in that particular activity.
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