Leadership and Coalition Building by Dr. Matt Lucas

JasperUntil recently (January 2019), Terry Seitz served as the Mayor of Jasper, Indiana. During his tenure, Jasper initiated a number of public projects which brought together public and private money to redevelop the city and bring jobs to the community. In 2018 alone, there were three major projects completed or underway: the restoration of an old downtown movie theater into a performance and movie theater (The Astra), the creation of Parklands of Jasper, a 75-acre park on the site of a closed 9-hole golf course in the center of the community, and setting the stage for the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center, a shared space for Jasper Community Arts and the Jasper Public Library. Groundbreaking is set for early April. This work was recognized by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce by naming them Indiana Community of the Year in 2018. Terry now serves as State Outreach Director for US Senator Mike Braun (R).

In this interview, I asked Terry about building coalitions. The work he has done to bring about change in a Midwest city illustrates the power of leadership to forge new opportunities.

ML: As an elected official, success often hinges on building coalitions and bringing different people together with different perspectives and priorities. What were three skills that you needed to hone to be successful in building these coalitions?

 TS: a. I was born happy and positive, so I always ask, “How might we do this?”, rather than “Why should we do this?” One commences with a lot of light; the other starts in a dark room.

b.      Similarly, I surrounded myself with other positive leaders. It took me one full term and the dismissal of a few people to get it the right people in the right seats on the ol’ bus, but what a difference it made – to the City, to my time as mayor and to my well-being.

c.      I welcome engagement. As a local government leader, no one was a stranger. I listened to all points of view before, during and after an issue was solved or a project was underway. Ultimately, decisions had to be made and some may disagree, but that’s why I was elected.

ML: Many leadership and execution consultants have argued that a leader should focus on one priority/project at a time, but you did not follow that advice (starting multiple projects that totaled nearly $200 million), and you have argued that focusing on one at a time would not have been good for Jasper. How did you come to that conclusion and what challenges did you face with execution as you did this?

TS: Fortunately, we had just completed a strong Comprehensive Plan the year before I was elected. Unfortunately, most of our Common Council which passed it 7-0, never read it. When we started implementing the actions called for in the plan we got a great deal of pushback due to “change”. Concurrently, we received much public support and the more we leveraged the support the more actions we completed. I am an advocate of “plan your work and work your plan”. On a side note, change really is difficult. In 2015, my re-election ended in a tie after 4,000 votes were cast. I won by one vote in a recount. It remains the highest number of votes cast in an Indiana election which ended in a tie. I never looked back.

ML: A lot of your work centered on redevelopment. As any leader knows, it is easier to start with nothing than redeveloping, relaunching or restarting an existing company, project (or in your case, city). There is a lot of memory and culture tied to the status quo. How did you go about getting people to let go of the past so they could build a new future?

TS: Jasper’s robust business community became the drivers and supporters of change. They welcomed our adoption of state economic development laws and invested in our City again through capital and employee expansion; they became partners in the turning old properties into new uses and; they joined the general public in financially supporting our endeavors. We called this P4: Public Private Philanthropic Partnerships. Once people saw growth in our private sector and the support provided to the City, they became much more supportive of the public sector projects.

ML: One of the challenges you faced was talent development and acquisition. This has become a major problem for businesses and cities. How did you address this for a town of 15,000 in southern Indiana? What advice would you give to leaders trying to address talent acquisition challenges?

TS: With employment at 98% for years, attracting talent to Jasper/Dubois County remains the constant major issue in order to sustain our existing companies. I firmly believe the private investments and public projects we have completed and underway will support growth. Quality of Place items like our joint arts and public library center, The Parklands of Jasper, the Smithville Fiber buildout in the city and creating a greater variety of housing options are laying the groundwork of being an even more attractive place to live and work. The State of Indiana is encouraging the same.

At the same time, we are not growing enough to meet even the basic levels of employment. When we do grow, it’s often from the rural counties around us and that’s not optimal. Similarly, the Indianapolis/donut counties draw from Indiana’s rural counties and that isn’t sustainable, either. I commend Accelerate Indiana Municipalities (Aim Indiana) and the Indiana University Public Policy Institute for researching other Midwest states where growth is occurring and offering alternative ideas beyond the scope of where we are today.

ML: What is your favorite leadership book and why?


Follow Dr. Lucas and read the rest of his article here:  Leadership and Coalition Building




Dr. Matt Lucas is the Chancellor at Indiana Wesleyan University National & Global.


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Introducing Dr. Eddy Shigley

Eddy will be our speaker for the next First Fridays Fort Wayne event on April 12 (note new date!).  Jere sat down with Eddy to have him share something we’ll hear more about on April 12 (plus his NCAA pick).

Register for this free event here:  April 12 First Fridays with Dr. Eddy Shigley

A Leader’s Five Journeys by Dr. Matt Lucas

sunset rise road

Leadership always reveals our inner qualities. You can fake it for awhile, displaying an easy-going spirit you heard about in a leadership podcast, but eventually the truth will out. Then there are those of us who do not try to disguise it and all the gunk from our inner selves splatters on those around us (think: Elon Musk).

Leadership puts your truest self on display if for no other reason than others are watching, either because they’re paid to follow or they’re deciding if they will continue. And nothing reveals the inner self of leaders like stress, challenges, unforeseen obstacles and failure.

When I think of leadership from this perspective, the metaphor of journey comes to mind. Some of the greatest stories of the world are stories of epic journeys: The OdysseyThe Divine ComedyPilgrims ProgressThe Adventures of Huckleberry FinnAlice’s Adventures in WonderlandCharlie and the Chocolate Factory. While the plot of each story focuses on the trials and challenges experienced along the way, the true journey is the learning and growth of the hero or heroine.

Anyone who has been a leader can relate to this. While the story that everyone sees are the challenges and trials the leader navigates, the true journey is the inward one where the leader grows and learns. I have found that every leader has five journeys to take:

1.    Followership journey- from independence to dependence where we learn that we are better together.

2.    Stewardship journey- from selfishness to generosity where we learn that it is easy to give what we do not own.

3.    Leadership journey

Read the rest of this article and follow Dr. Lucas here:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leaders-five-journeys-matt-lucas/

Dr. Matt Lucas is the Chancellor at Indiana Wesleyan University National & Global.

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Defining Leadership by Dr. Matt Lucas

img_2736-1Dr. Matt Lucas was one of our guest speakers in 2018.  He is the Chancellor at Indiana Wesleyan University – National and Global.  Here is an excerpt from a recent article he published on LinkedIn.  You can read the entire article and follow Dr. Lucas by clicking on the link provided below:

“I have read hundreds of definitions of leadership, from the very academic to the practical, from paragraphs to single words (Influence à la John Maxwell). As I think about leadership and observe effective leaders I want to follow, I see them answering four questions as they define and embody leadership:

1.      How does the leader interact with followers?

Leaders are always answering this question. How they answer this shapes the culture of their team, department or organization. From dictate to serve, there is a range of verbs (command, direct, guide, empower) that reflect the leader’s heart. Of course, there is a time for each, but the leader’s true self is revealed in times of stress. And we have all been around the leader who professes one verb but lives another.

2.      How does the leader describe those who follow?

I am always listening for the way the leader describes those around her. On one end of the continuum are words like partner, colleague, team member—terms that shrink the distance between leader and follower—and at the other are words like subordinate and supporter that increase the distance and draws attention to the gap.

3.      What does the leader add to the relationship?”

Read the rest here:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/defining-leadership-matt-lucas/

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March 1 New Venue

We announced last week that we are moving the March 1 First Fridays Fort Wayne event to Sweetwater.  The reason?  Registrations were coming in to the point we realized our current location would not hold the crowd we are expecting.

Someone asked me the other day if this was a permanent move – it is not.

If you have not registered yet, please click on the image below.  While Sweetwater’s space can accommodate many more, there are still seating limitations.  Contact a friend/colleague, and both of you register today.  Remember, these events are free.

See you at Sweetwater on March 1!

March 1 2019 Heather Herron flyer