Other Views: Good leaders are not born

FARGO -- "We have a special relationship with and are accountable to the people of North Dakota" Mission statement of North Dakota State University.NDSU has a long tradition and history of success. Academics, athletics, research, agriculture. Sin...

Mark Hagerott
Mark Hagerott, new chancellor of the North Dakota University System, seen April 30, 2015. (Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune)

FARGO -- “We have a special relationship with and are accountable to the people of North Dakota” Mission statement of North Dakota State University.
NDSU has a long tradition and history of success. Academics, athletics, research, agriculture. Since its humble beginnings in the spring of 1890, setting the example for our state and our nation has been the expectation by the taxpayers of North Dakota. We have watched NDSU succeed and we have been proud.
We’ve recently been reminded that good leaders are not born. They are not carved from granite and placed on some pedestal only accessible to a select few. They are not born with type A personalities, pushing their way to the top. Leaders do not stand at the back of the room, observing and pivoting direction at the whim of the community. They do not attend as many meetings as possible and shake a few hands as people arrive and leave before agendas are finalized.
Strong leaders have a moral compass that at times might separate them from the masses. Strong leaders have a value system that people learn to trust. Over time, when the leader must break from the pack, the community trusts, the community stands behind, his fellow workers believe.
Good leaders work in a team. The line between subordinate and boss can be blurry at times. They stand together. The strong leader is out front and takes the punches for the team. Leaders help set strategy and try to motivate through understanding, listening, being humble and compassionate. Strong leaders are transparent, they take full responsibility at all times. They are honest: behind closed doors; in emails; in text messages; and yes, even to the media.
Good leaders don’t take every opportunity to have praise and glory thrown at them, but when the questions get difficult, they don’t hide from the truth. Refusing to speak to the media. Or refusing even to walk into the media’s building.
In responding to a firestorm of criticism about a new, restrictive media policy limiting news outlets that were not broadcast contract holders for Bison football and basketball games, Bresciani mislead the public. His public statements were contrary to comments he made in emails and text exchanges:
“Remember to control the spin as much as you can. You are ‘adjusting” (not changing) process, because of fan reaction (not media or other pressures). Own the decision as yours not something you were told you had to do. I’ll back that...especially because you DID agree rather than force it.”
Dean L. Bresciani (text to Athletic Director Matt Larsen)
Soon after sending that private text message to his athletic director, Bresciani made this public statement: “I was profoundly disappointed when I learned the facts of this issue.”
“ I erred in not bringing these ideas forward for the president’s review.”
(Larsen in a public statement taking the blame)
But in an email to Larsen and others, including university system Chancellor Mark Hagerott, Bresciani defended the policy he publicly disavowed:
“... please know I fully support and agree with this business decision and consider those who made it to be some of the most expert and profession(al) I’ve worked with ... .”
Is this the type of leadership we want for our 14,000 sons and daughters who attend NDSU? Lying to the state about your actions, is this acceptable? Telling your subordinate to take the public heat and you will back him? Do these leaders meet our community standards? NDSU’s very own mission standards? What else are they not forthcoming about? How else does Bresciani treat his co-workers when emails and text messages are not seen? We have demanded excellence from the football team. They have delivered. Now it is time for the president to win.
President Bresciani’s actions in the last week are in embarrassment to our state. We ask for Dean Bresciani’s immediate resignation.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead’s Editorial Board formed this opinion.

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