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ISSUE 118 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/24/2004

President talks leadership

By Jean Mullins
News Editor

Friday, September 24, 2004

President Christopher Thomforde spoke Tuesday, Sept. 21, on the qualities which make a leader, the types of leaders he sees, and his own personal experiences as a leader.

Thomforde emphasized the equal importance of the leader and the followers.

"There needs to be a good relationship between the leaders and the led," he said. He also pointed out a leader's need for a purpose.

Because of his training in theology, Thomforde said he felt it appropriate to express the types of leaders in Biblical terms, from the Christian tradition.

The first type of leader Thomforde talked about was the prophet. He described the prophet as one who leads at a point of crisis, such as the prophets of the Old Testament who led people during times of extreme tribulation. This type of leader assesses a situation, internalizes it and determines a way for the community to move forward to solve the problem.

Thomforde referred to many historical and modern figures to exemplify his point, including President George W. Bush and his leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The second type is the shepherd or pastoral leader. Thomforde explained this type of leader as one who moves people along on a longterm journey, reacting to smaller problems and the needs of the people. The difference between the prophet and the pastoral leader, he explained, is that a pastoral leader "is sensitive not so much to the times but to the people."

Thomforde described the third type of leader as a steward, one who is given a treasure to nurture and expand in the best interest of the group for the time it is entrusted to the steward. He used the example of the late St. Olaf president, Lars Boe, who, Thomforde said, changed St. Olaf College from a small school educating the children of Norwegian immigrants to the national institution that it is today.

The rabbi, or teacher, the fourth type of leader Thomforde mentioned, pushes the people to comprehend more about themselves.

"They dont necessarily know a lot, but they want to ask questions of the people so that they may better understand themselves," Thomforde said.

The final type of leader Thomforde used was the priest. He explained that, like a priest in a religious service who acts as a go-between the people and God, this type of leader acts as an intermediary between two parties. He pointed out how this leader must be sensitive to the needs of many different types of constituents and factions, as well as try to bring all the different groups together to function as a community.

I think that leadership is a matter of character but leadership does require skills, Thomforde said. "Everyone will be called at some point in their lives to lead."

Thomforde, of all the leaders whom he mentioned in his speech, sited Abraham Lincoln as his personal role model. Lincoln embodied many different types of leadershipprophet, steward, and rabbiThomforde said

Students at the talk found his advice thought-provoking.

"Leadership is a skill Ive always failed at, and President Thomfordes words gave me a chance to look and see if I had the ability to or the want to lead," Mike Tecku 07 said.

Thomforde concluded his speech by encouraging St. Olaf students to learn collaboration and problem analysis during their education.

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