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Running Head: Field Based Learning Assignment Interview Analysis

Field Based Learning Assignment Interview Analysis

Kelsey Hoeksema
EDL 270: Personal and Professional Seminar
Drake University
FBLA Interview Analysis 2

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one

that gets the people to do the greatest things. (Reagan, 1965) What are the characteristics that

define effective leadership? How do effective leaders engage others in their vision? In

interviewing three unrelated leaders in business, community, and education new ideas were

reflected upon. One idea profoundly resonated after the interviews were complete; the setting in

which one is a leader, while important, does not define them as a good leader. Collectively

defined, leadership stems from a focus of ones vision, their personal set of core values,

collaboration in support of a team effort, humility, and determination to positively affect others.

The three leaders offered different insight on the journey to becoming an effective leader.

Simply stated, each instilled the belief that one cannot make a difference without support of

others. The interview questions were generated with individual experience and viewpoints

around inquiries of todays leadership in mind. Each of the interviewees are respected in their

field by their colleagues, employees, and audiences in various ways. Of these interviews several

statements resonated and will be reflected upon when leadership opportunities arise in the future.

These leaders were selected with their societal contributions in mind and for commitment

to their work as community members, educators, or business leaders. The first interviewee is

Michael Howard. Howard currently serves as the head pastor at Revision Church in Clive, Iowa.

He serves 100 people in his role and leads his staff of three. Education has been a priority of

Howards, he majored in political science and upon graduation realized the job prospects for a

degree in political science were slim to none.

"Prayerfully, I decided seminary was the route I needed to take. I had been married for

three years; my wife Jenny and I decided to move to Minnesota. Time after time, I had

been approached by leaders in my church conference who continued to encourage me to

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plant a new church. I had no interest at the time... I struggled with the idea for such a long

time, I was comfortable where I was. Then, I surrendered to God and committed to

planting this church (Howard, personal communication, 2015).

Howard is also convinced a leader must be committed to serving those being led. He believes

leadership requires service.

The role of leadership in education evolves and changes. This is the testament of

educational leader, Katie Cook. Cook serves the Des Moines Community School District as the

Special Education Administrator. Cook has been in the education field for many years. She

values where she has been in her career. She appreciates her experiences as an educator and

believes that is what creates her success in her current position. As Special Education

Administrator, Cook provides direct supervision of 40 people, as her roles serves 18 elementary

schools. In her role, Cook explains, [I am] supervising the implementation of Special Education

in 18 buildings and the Vision Program with three teachers and two associates. Daily she works

with teachers, colleagues, students, and families, all the while focusing to keep up with demands

of administration. Together we are continually researching, learning, and supporting special

education laws for Iowa [in bettering student achievement], she shared.

Society sees some of todays greatest leaders in the business world. Often these leaders

reflect our societys definition of success in terms of money and power. Luann Rickert is no

stranger to the business world. She, however, sees success in a different light. At the core of her

leadership belief is her Christian faith and her commitment to hard work. Rickert is the Vice

President, Internal Audit for Deere & Company. This role is one she has taken on since the

summer of 2011. She first was employed as an auditor in 1979 and has served in many capacities

for the company since. At one point, Rickert was Global Director of Operator Stations for the
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Worldwide Agriculture and Turf Division in Bruchsal, Germany. Her duties are not limited to

auditing. Rickert shared her job responsibilities saying, It is unclear the number of people my

role supervises and serves. [I serve]a lot of stakeholders. I am responsible for 95 audit

employees globally as well. When discussing effective leaders, she believes a leader needs to be

ethical, humble, and respected. These three qualities allow for the leader to be a person who

others will want to follow.

There are many common ties in the stories of these leaders. Each interviewee did not see

the opportunity of leadership as one laid out for them. Life experiences, careers, their individual

passions and purposes, and hard work has led them to their leadership positions today. The list of

leadership qualities can continue on and on. An effective leader, however, is defined by each of

the interviewees. When discussing leadership qualities Howard initiated:

Many may answer this questions differently. There are hundreds of ways you could take

this, but I am convinced few things are critical for leadership, being: vision, humility,

passion, and courage.

Rickert also believes there are a number of qualities for good leaders. Of these, she stated the

leader must have the ability to work with others in a team environment, a clear vision set, a need

to change with the change, and most of all, a leader needs care about others. She said, All work

gets done through engaged and motivated people [under a leader who cares]. As a veteran in

educational leadership, Cook believes an effective leader is one who seeks out collaboration,

displays humility, and is a problem solver. Cook also noted lifelong learning is crucial for

success in any field. Through these conversations, it is clear leadership is multifaceted, but

effective leadership comes from one who serves others in humility and takes the time to engage

others in the process. In synthesizing the responses to this question from each interview,
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similarities arose. The leaders individually stated their opinions, yet the focus for effective

leadership qualities from each included vision, humility, collaboration, and courage as a leader.

Additionally, one question focused on personal intent in maintaining a balance between

having a career and a personal life. All leaders communicated this is a non-negotiable for

success. Howard, Rickert, and Cook each expressed family as a priority of theirs. Regarding

both personal and professional roles, Cook candidly shared,

Try hard for a personal life, I have seen it end up poorly for others. Keep perspective.

Have a life outside of work. Time with family and friends provides positive results in my

career. I require this for my staff.

Rickert enjoys being invested in the community and enjoying time spent at home with family.

She is a dedicated member of Womens Leadership Council. She is on the Board of Directors at

Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, as well. On personal matters, Rickert


When a family emergency happened recently, I was quickly reminded family first and

work second. This doesnt mean let things at work drop but we all learn what shifts

need to be made when a major event occurs.

Howard believes family comes first. He said, however, this is not an excuse to forget the

responsibilities at work. He works hard to maintain balance, reflecting on this Howard

mentioned, Sometimes we get caught up in one area or the other; perspective is key!

Effective leaders take a journey all their own into the role they hold today. Due to

individuality in the journey, differences between each of the leaders was communicated. Beliefs

and core values served as a motivator for life and career. Each leader heavily relies on personal

belief to lead, however, one major difference found is in where their strength lies. Rickert shared,
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God is my compass I know what is right. This impacts my whole life. Howard asks himself

repeatedly, Am I like Jesus? In continuation he concluded, Its the foremost question and it

makes the difference between failure and success in churches. Rickert and Howard have

Christian faith as their guiding compass. Cook shared core values serve as a guide; she does not

use one guiding compass alone. She relies on several values as her guiding compass comes from

her belief in humanity, reflective thinking, and sometimes Catholic Church viewpoints. My

work is driven by a desire for social justice. This speaks to me, Cook reflected. Each of these

leaders rely on their beliefs to help support day to day operations.

Vision is crucial for an effective leader. The ability to clearly communicate ones vision

for their workplace is key. Differences in vision are apparent for each leader. The three leaders

serve populations of different volumes, in different settings, and with different trajectory to show

success. In the community, Howard has a clear vision set for his church congregation and staff.

He desires for all members to feel connected, to have their needs met on a spiritual and personal

level. Cooks vision for leadership is to oversee educators and assist in creating programming

and plans for success. Currently seeking partnership with general education counterparts in

moving the [Des Moines Community School] district forward. Rickert, in the business world,

the vision is driven by data collection and results from revenue.

I try to remain positive in all work situations, in working with others I am always

thinking out in the future, helping set the vision, and then figuring out how to help others

see the vision. I believe that if everyone understands the vision then they will want to go

there- wherever that is.

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Howard concluded the power of a vision in saying, If you dont have a vision, or the ability to

articulate [it], then you cant lead because there is nowhere to go. Vision plays an important

role in leadership for their jobs but the focal points differ in these leaders roles.

The element of surprise was limited in these interviews. Each leader was selected due to

their success in serving as an effective leader. One quote, however, stands out above the rest

continuing to resonate in my mind. Howard admitted, I struggled with the idea for such a long

time; I was comfortable where I was. I surrendered to God and committed to planting this

church. In this statement, Howard pinpointed one result of leadership, sometimes making the

decision to become a leader is uncomfortable.

In my workplace it is seemingly easy to continue day to day in the same routines. Taking

risks and challenging my performance, however, will enhance career skills and abilities to serve

as a leader in the future. Courage, in taking calculated risks, was a leadership quality expressed

by both Cook and Howard. I am surprised by the increasing importance of this aspect for my role

as a teacher. Continued open-mindedness will need to be present to have courage to be

innovative in the classroom and as opportunities arise with a leadership focus.

Often advice from leaders is overlooked. Seemingly it may not be concurrent with ones

professional focus at that time. In terms of planning for the future, however, leaders have

experience that guides the advice each communicates. Being a teacher gives me the opportunity

to be a leader to students and to serve a model of leadership for other teachers. All of the

interviewees emphasized lifelong learning and effective communication skills in listening. These

two ideas seem simple enough, but cannot be overstated in implicating success as a leader in the

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In conclusion of this analysis, each interview shed a fresh light on the importance of good

leadership today. Howard, Cook, and Rickert while differing in roles in the community all have

one common tie; they are leaders to the ones in which they work. Purpose, passion, and core

beliefs lead and continue to drive these individuals as effective change-makers, mentors, and

leaders to others.
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Cook, Katie. Interview. October 2, 2015
Howard, Michael. Personal Communication: Email. October 11, 2015.
Rickert, Luann. Personal Communication: Email October 13, 2015.
Wallace, Mike. Ronald Reagan [Television broadcast]. 1965, Decemeber 14. 60 Minutes.
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Time Analysis
Interviews: 1.5 hours
Synthesis of Information: 3 hours
Written Analysis: 3 hours
Editing of FBLA: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 9 hours