#461. Leadership

Posted on | The Agurban


We want to share with our readers a few excerpts from a very well thought-out Christmas message we received from Bruce Gjovig, Director of the Center for Innovation at the University of North Dakota where he is providing an entrepreneurial spark in booming North Dakota. While Bruce’s message comes at Christmastime, we believe it is pertinent throughout the year.

 … servant leaders… understand “service above self” i.e. the purpose of leadership is not to enrich the CEO but serve the CEOs  (customers, employees, owners).  Good leaders empower others to lead, rather than controlling them through power, process, paperwork, hierarchies and bureaucracies.  Leaders inspire their people, giving them the confidence they need to step up to leadership challenges throughout the organization. Servant leadership is designed to increase the self-determination, self-confidence and self-sacrifice of everyone; not create a dependency, or a power base. Great leaders help people to think more highly of themselves, and to be more independent, free, and responsible.  A leader starts with vision. He ends with thank you. In between, the leader is a servant who aspires and only gets his reward after his customers, employees, owners, stakeholders and others are properly taken care of.  They lead with intentional influence, not authority, power and hierarchy. Sounds a little like Jesus.

Servant leaders treat people with dignity, listening intensely, not interrupting, smiling, saying please and thank you, acknowledging the contributions of others, admitting mistakes, apologizing, not having to be the smartest person in the room all the time and spending time on the front lines with employees and customers. Servant leaders are vigilant in fighting elitism, cronyism, arrogance, complacency and hubris.  Servant leaders do not abuse, humiliate or devalue people. Their goal is to build trust as with trust we achieve consistent high engagement and high performance.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” – Jim Rohn, entrepreneur

I am fortunate to live in North Dakota which for two years running has been ranked the best run state in the nation by Wall Street 24/7.  Good leadership – both public and private – has resulted in an island state that enjoys growing prosperity during economic sluggishness nationally.  It is not only our energy industry that is growing, but agriculture, technology, manufacturing, service, trade, tourism, and more. Our economic engine is purring with a diverse, growing economy. We are not immune from the national economy and federal policies, but we have some great offsets to weather the storm. There is no better time to be in North Dakota even with our challenges of growth. Surely we will have some bumps in the road, but the basics are good.  Our good economy is no accident, and is the result of good leadership over many years.

Capitalism still does not get the respect it deserves. Redistribution of wealth through statism and socialism still has too many supporters with good intentions even with a lack of evidence of success from redistribution.  Maggie Thatcher had it right when she said “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any government program as private sector growth reduces poverty and causes prosperity.  Between 1990 and 2010, 1 billion people (!) were lifted out of extreme poverty in 40 poor countries that moved towards capitalism.  China is now the world’s #2 economy not because they embraced more communism, but because they embraced capitalism.  Never in history have prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.  Capitalism accounts for more than 100% of the reduction in poverty that has taken place over the past 100 years.  It is more than 100% because of the statism factors that have retarded poverty reduction and wasted trillions of dollars with little results.

“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of life is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.”  –William Arthur Ward, Fountains of Faith

Innovation, entrepreneurship and access to entrepreneur capital remain central to my life. The Center works with inspiring innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs who are following the American dream. Entrepreneurs need to be unleashed; not regulated, controlled, stifled, taxed, audited and demoralized. There is nothing like unleashing the potential of creative people who find opportunity and customers. Let us remove the anchors so they can sail. Ships are meant to sail.  Innovation, progress and positive change are miracles…and our future. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

To learn more about Bruce and the Center for Innovation, visit www.innovators.net.