02.16.16

Area Business Leaders Reflect on Whom They Most Admire

By: Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

I wanted to share my comments captured in the News-Sentinel on President’s Day. Two other individuals were interviewed as well, but below are my comments.

By: Nate Bickel nbickel@news-sentinel.com

Monday, February 15, 2016 7:59 AM

Today is Presidents Day. The position of president of the United States is one of incredible responsibility. The office has been held by 43 men during 44 presidencies; Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms.

From these 43 men, numerous lessons can be learned and styles of leadership incorporated into everyday life. Recently, presidents of local businesses and organizations were asked about their favorite presidents in United States history, and why and how they have incorporated some of those presidents’ leadership traits into their own leadership styles.

Lifelong learning a key to success, he says.

Karl LaPan is the president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, a nonprofit resource center focused on developing and growing innovative companies in northeast Indiana.

LaPan, who has led the center since it opened in 2000, pointed out key attributes he thought were necessary to be successful in any leadership role. “Being interested in connecting the dots, constantly questioning things and finding ways to improve in the process makes intellectual curiosity a key attribute.”

Other traits pointed out by LaPan included being emotionally intelligent, and being willing to be a lifelong learner. “I think a good leader is one who is self-managed, self-controlled and has good discipline. Also, by being a student of knowledge and educating yourself on things you can become a more successful leader.”

LaPan also added that the best leaders are ones who demonstrated the skill of being able to see around the corners. “Those types of leaders are writing the chapters for the future, planning for things that haven’t happened yet.”

When asked about his favorite president LaPan was quick in his response with President Ronald Reagan. “Reagan was a great communicator and brought with him a type of swagger when the country was really at its lowest point.”

Reagan, the nation’s 40th president, took office after the energy crisis of the 1970s as well as the hostage crisis in Iran after the United States Embassy in Tehran was seized. The hostages were released on Reagan’s first day in office, after 444 days in captivity. He would serve two terms after being wounded in an assassination attempt in 1981, only weeks after he was inaugurated.

“He saw potential in the ‘American Dream’ that I think had been lost under the previous president (Jimmy Carter). His agenda of peace through strength and trust, but verify, altered the Cold War and trajectory of relationships with countries in Europe and around the world. He was an optimist and saw potential for our country and gave us the leadership we needed when we needed it the most,” LaPan said.

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