Former Kansas Governors Define Leadership

The Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita, Ks. (funded by the Kansas Health Foundation) fosters civic leadership. Its initiatives are designed to inspire, educate and connect Kansans from all areas of civic life, including business, government and nonprofit organizations. Periodically they publish “The Journal” which includes interesting stories about leadership issues and often they tell the story through the lenses of individual leaders.

In the last issue of “The Journal” they featured a story that compared leadership styles of former Democratic Governor Mark Parkinson and Former Republican Governor Bill Graves. Let me quote from the interview with Gov. Graves:

“I think one of the hardest things that I’ve experienced in my professional life is those moments when you simply must go and sit with someone you’d probably otherwise not sit with and try to do business. I think what I’m seeing in Washington right now and probably to some extent you’re seeing it in the state legislature is that people are sort of losing the notion or forgetting the notion that there is a point in time when you simply must put politics on the shelf and figure out how to serve the people. That’s the right things to do for two reasons; first of all, because it’s what is expected of you when you take your oath of office, you pledge to do your best to serve your prospective constituency but also, I’m a firm believer that at the end of the day, the good public service trumps the politics.”

In his interview, Gov. Parkinson said:

“In my view, to get anything done, to accomplish anything there are essentially three steps and you need leadership at all three of those steps. The first step is you have to have a vision…someone to set goals. The second step is that you need to have a strategy…what are the steps that need to be taken to accomplish things? The third is someone has to execute the work; pull the right people together and get them to do the work that’s needed to fulfill the strategy to meet the vision. But the great thing about leadership is that you don’t have to be all three to be a leader…it is not essential that one person is the visionary, the strategist and the person who executes the strategy.”

These two Kansas Governor’s served their state with distinction. To learn more about the Kansas Leadership Center, please go to:


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