Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin was the leadoff speaker for the 2010-2011 Conversations in Leadership series, meeting with Bush School students and faculty on October 12. A part of the Public Service Leadership Program, the Conversations in Leadership series invites prominent public servants to discuss lessons they have learned as leaders, and also provides students an opportunity to ask the speakers about their leadership experiences.
In his presentation, President Loftin offered three key pieces of advice for being a successful leader – grow a thick skin, don’t read the blogs, and don’t make the same mistake twice. Leaders will make mistakes, said Loftin, adding that he has made many. He stressed that making errors is a natural part of the process of leadership, but that it is important to learn from those mistakes.
Dr. Loftin spoke of his educational background in physics and his career as a professor, government consultant, and researcher. In discussing his current position, he recounted his surprise when he learned on a Sunday evening that he was being considered for the interim position. The next day, he received the news by text message that he had been selected, and immediately began making the necessary plans to assume this new leadership role. He emphasized that this kind of sudden elevation to a major leadership position often requires quick action in response to unexpected situations.
When asked about his trademark bowtie, Dr. Loftin advised the students to similarly have their own “trademark.” An effective leader, he noted, has an ability to be remembered and connect with other people.
Following the discussion, the Public Service Leadership Program hosted a reception, where Dr. Loftin spoke with students individually to learn more about their own goals in leadership.
The Public Service Leadership Program was established to promote and support President George Bush’s goal of creating principled leaders for careers in public service and international affairs. Throughout the academic year, the program hosts speakers, workshops and self-assessments for students enrolled at the Bush School.