Iowa State alumus presents on concepts of leadership, lessons and life


Molly Milder/ Iowa State Daily

Iowa State alum Jim Knuth, senior vice president for Farm Credit Services of America, presents his lecture on leadership Wednesday.

Molly Milder

On the third night of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Week, students gathered in Curtiss Hall to listen to Iowa State alumnus Jim Knuth, senior vice president for Farm Credit Services of America, present the 13th annual “William K. Deal Endowed Leadership Lecture: Lessons in Leadership and Life.”

The lecture began with Knuth expressing how no generation has been better prepared and positioned to succeed in agriculture than the current generation because of better education and business oriented work.

“You are our future leaders and so the better prepared you are to be successful in your lives — to model for others, to assume leadership positions — the better the world will be,” Knuth said. “We’re a better world when we have better people.”

Sadie Gravel, senior in agricultural business, said she attended the lecture because she is an officer for the Agricultural Business Club and she has an interest in a career with Farm Credit Services of America.

“I’m always looking for great advice on how to reach all my career aspirations and become a better leader myself and for my peers and industry,” Gravel said.

A heavy focus of Knuth’s lecture surrounded the three foundational concepts of the lecture: leadership, belief and greatness.

Knuth described how leadership isn’t a job title or position but it is about influence, accountability and responsibility. Knuth then explained the five practices of highly successful leaders. These five practices include challenge the process, inspire a shared vision, enable others to act, model the way and encourage the heart.

Another topic Knuth covered was belief. He focused on self-belief and how it is a combination of confidence, competence, mental toughness and perseverance.

“The mindset for self-belief: why not me?” Knuth said.

Knuth also talked about greatness. He told students to strive for greatness and the path to greatness is to win each day by having good priorities, having a good attitude and putting forth great effort.

Jonah Gray, sophomore in environmental science, attended the lecture because he was required to for class but Gray said he found the information displayed in Knuth’s lecture to be very helpful.

“The striving for greatness and the self belief part was really interesting and was something that I hadn’t heard before,” Gray said.

As the lecture ended, Knuth left the students with his final thoughts.

“My final thoughts are greatness will not pursue you, you must pursue greatness,” Knuth said. “A leader’s job is not to put greatness into people, rather it is to bring it out of them and no one has ever regretted giving their very best.”

Knuth said that striving for greatness becomes a habit and habits define your character, which defines your destiny. Knuth talked about how keeping the ideas in their mind and developing them will help students with their future.

“I hope they write down one or two things, maybe stick it up on their mirror, maybe put it in their phone, maybe think about it a lot,” Knuth said. “[…] So, take one or two or three things with you because again I think it will serve you well and really help you on your journey.”