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.”
How so?


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

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