Ken Buck Author, adjunct professor at UWS’s Business and Economics Department,
and holder of the Society of Human Resource Management’s highest
professional designation (Senior Professional Human Resources) – Ken Buck
has counseled a wide variety of businesses throughout the upper Midwest for more than three decades. His leadership perspectives are time-tested – and timely.
Duluthian: In tumultuous times, it’s important to
demonstrate strong leadership. What are a good
leader’s most important qualities?
Buck: I believe good leaders build trust through
qualities I call the “five C’s”:
Commonality – This refers to things, people
or feelings that individuals have in common.
Leaders must be able to stay in touch with
employees in a way that balances power
with relating to things in common.
Competence – We often trust people because
of their ability to perform a specific
expertise. Leaders must be competent
within the business or they
have little chance to get people to
follow and respect them.
Confidentiality – Leaders must
know when it’s appropriate
to share what they’re told by
their employees and what
must be kept confidential.
Concern – Leaders must convey
they understand what employees
go through and that they care
about them. Concern has to be
Consistency – Employees need to
know what to expect. Leadership
treatment of employees, reactions
to employees and style must be
consistent, so employees don’t need
to guess how management will act
or react from day to day.
D: Are leadership skills innate,
learned – or a combination of both?
Buck: Simply stated, leadership is
the ability to influence and guide
the direction, actions and opinions
of others. I don’t believe people are born leaders
or can’t become leaders. In my opinion, people
who come from families that instill strong selfesteem
and the belief that one can do anything
provide a great head start. But we still require
training and further development of technical
and people skills. I came from such a family;
yet, it was my mentor who taught me leadership.
First, he taught me the technical side of
my job and made me “competent.” Next,
he spent years teaching me the “softer”
people skills. I was allowed to make
mistakes without fear of retribution and
taught how to resolve them so they
wouldn’t be duplicated.
D: You believe in the phrase
“adversity shows character.”
Buck: We’ve all heard the old
adage that adversity builds
character, but I’m not sure
this is always true. I do believe
that how we handle adversity
displays our character.
By this, I mean if we maintain
honesty, compassion for others,
and do the right things in a calm
manner, people will admire our
character. On the other hand, we
can be dishonest, not care for others,
not do the right things – and panic.
This shows a lack of character.
Ken Buck is this issue’s featured source. See the
“Lead for Success” story on page 20.
Duluthian may.june 2009 64
Duluthian_09MJ_Book.indb 64 4/24/09 11:19:16 AM