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From the CEO's Desk: What Kind of Economic Developer Do You Want to Be?

Monday, February 26, 2018

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By Aaron Brossoit, CEO

Economic development is about building communities. This type of transformation requires leadership and hard work. The economic developers I see everyday have a range of skills and wealth of experience to draw from to perform their jobs, and these individuals are community leaders. Some economic developers recognize their leadership role and are able to guide boards and community groups through strategic plans. Others are quiet servant leaders who diligently work hard for the community and are able to accomplish monumental tasks and initiatives by serving others.

There is no right or wrong way to be an economic developer and no particular leadership style is better; but, the most successful economic developers I have met have determined the best way to be successful in their own communities. Being the right fit seems to be a common denominator of success.

So what type of economic developer do you want to be?

Here are four different types of leadership styles. Perhaps learning a little more about how others lead will give you some ideas on how to grow further in your community and your leadership role.


Are you a thought leader?

Thought leaders are visionaries at heart and look far ahead on the horizon. These leaders excel at clearly articulating a vision and getting a team of people to rally around a vision.  These leaders spend a lot of time researching their ideas and refining the vision into executable plans. 

Once the plan is articulated to a group. This leader uses collaboration and cohesion to accomplish growth goals.

Some famous example of thought leaders are Elon Musk, Tony Robbins, Richard Branson and one of my favorites, Lynelle Cameron of Autodesk.

Ms. Cameron convinced Autodesk to look at the most pressing environmental issues and to educate people on the importance of a sustainable environment. She helped launch the Autodesk Foundation which invests in entrepreneurs and innovators who are designing a sustainable world. The foundation education has reached over 2 million students and professionals worldwide.


Are you are courageous leader?

Courageous leaders have a vision and are not afraid to try different paths to validate the vision and ideas. These leaders usually try many different tactics using success and failure as a teacher to find the best path for a community to succeed.

The courageous leaders enjoy taking an new idea and personally implementing it before sharing it with others. These leaders often use personal success and failures as inspiration for other to follow.

Manuel Grenacher, the CEO of Coresystems, exemplifies a courageous leader.  He started a company to earn money so he could afford to continue his college education. Manuel has built his global business from nothing and believes customer service is the differentiator in today’s digital, media-driven world.


Are you an inspirational leader?

Inspirational leaders are a catalyst of change by drawing from their passion and commitment to ideas. This leader will always speak of what can be and articulate an ideal vision to follow. Certainly, the inspirational leader knows that perfection is difficult to achieve and not an obstacle--it is a challenge.

The inspirational leader can fire up a group and compel them to improve the community with passion and conviction.  These leaders make community growth a movement not just a goal.

Simon Sinek stands at the top for inspirational, thought leaders.  If you haven’t had a chance to see his Ted talk on “Why” then stop whatever you ar doing right now and treat yoursel to this brief Ted talk: 

Simon forces us to recognize our purpose.


Are you a servant leader?

Servant leaders always set themselves aside and find their strength in the success of other people. This leader will work very hard to remove all the obstacles for others so that the team always wins.

This leader reaches their full potential when everyone else is succeeding and being rewarded.  These leaders care deeply about the people they work with and they care deeply about the emotional success of their colleagues.

Famous servant leaders are not difficult to identify. But, I have found the most successful servant leaders are found in our own communities. These individuals are volunteering and leading charity events. Maybe you are one?  The best servant leaders I know don’t soak up the spotlight, but they do accomplish a tremendous amount for everyone else.

At Golden Shovel we recognize how demanding the job of economic developer can be.  We also recognize the importance of growing your community for today’s generation. Communities need to find workers and attract businesses.  This is not a next generation problem. Economic developers are called to grow communities for this generation.

There is no more important time to lead a community through growth. At Golden Shovel we believe it is our mission to empower economic developers.  We know you are up to the challenge.


Stay connected,


Category: Blog, Economic Development

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