A Publication of WTVP

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the 40 Leaders Under Forty award winners for 2008.

These young professionals are clearly the foundation for our community’s future growth, and their accomplishments at a young age offer a glimpse of the greatness in store for central Illinois. Undoubtedly, the best is yet to come from these 40 individuals, and we are a rich, vibrant community due to their limitless potential. Of course, I would like to offer special congratulations to Kip McCoy, managing director at the Heartland Partnership.

Leaders come from all fields and backgrounds—these 40 Leaders clearly exemplify this. What’s more, specifically defining leadership is difficult at best, and it is nearly impossible to limit the possible attributes and qualities of a leader. Even more difficult is to gauge the motivation of some who take charge, and few outsiders are able to comprehend how the greatest of leaders are able to act decisively and boldly in a new direction before there is an explicit reason to do so.

It is not difficult to witness various styles of leadership positively impacting Peoria. Jonathan Williams of the Young Professionals Organization of Greater Peoria is a superb example of leadership by example. Through his capable direction, YPOGP has achieved an ever-greater public awareness in its effort to give a voice to our young talent.

Michael Everett of the West Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council has displayed amazing leadership in his ability to communicate the need for the successful completion of the Build the Block campaign. Through his efforts, central Illinois has come to understand the benefits of the Riverfront Museum and Caterpillar Experience, and it has become widely known that the project will propel our region into greater prosperity.

Pete Vonachen, a venerable icon of central Illinois, has led Peoria LEADERSHIPthrough his love for the game of baseball and his desire to bring happiness to the community. Quite simply, Pete’s leadership has brought unity and identity to Peoria. Glen Barton serves as a true statesman for our region, using his leadership abilities to assist startup firms and pave the way for important healthcare facilities. The list of notable leaders in central Illinois is simply endless.

These local figures exemplify my firm belief that it is individual leadership that truly causes positive change, not a reliance on institutions. What else could explain why a former CEO of one of the world’s largest companies would redirect his leadership abilities into unknown territories when he personally has little to gain? Don Rohn of S.C.O.R.E. is another perfect example. After he retired from his highly successful firm, he has given his time working with the small business community, imparting the leadership skills required for success, one company at a time.

It is from this starting assumption that the Heartland Partnership operates. Leadership is about individuals, and institutions are there for execution and support. It is clear that there is no defined pattern of leadership, and the actions and attitudes of leaders varies widely. This is precisely why companies have both a vision statement and a mission statement. A vision statement allows for leadership, while a mission statement is largely for managerial purposes. Throughout our family of companies, we have done our best to create space for foresight and creative leadership while maintaining the ability to manage details and execute visionary plans successfully. In this way, great, innovative ideas can be generated freely, but we are able to actualize and institute the concepts that benefit the region.

True direction also requires aggressive decisiveness when it comes to change. A capable leader is aware that more must always be done—it is when we are comfortable with the status quo that success begins to erode. Leadership demands the ability to analyze data and adapt in a deliberate, directed fashion to move ahead. Whether it is a business leader foreseeing a market force-changing event or an educator reacting to changing trends, the ability to evolve truly establishes the character of a leader.

Leadership reveals itself in any number of ways and manifests itself in a wide variety of personalities. That is why it is imperative to allow individuals the freedom to generate visionary plans while providing a framework to accomplish goals. Along with this, it is critical to understand the need to adapt and evolve in leadership. These characteristics are widespread in central Illinois. It is important to embrace the many faces of leadership and provide support for innovative ideas that continually reshape and improve our region. iBi