Secrets of Success: North Carolina GOV Jim Hunt

This is an occasional series of lessons learned from values based leaders profiled in the book, Secrets of Success, by GEN H. Hugh Shelton.  This first set of nuggets comes from former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt.  Governor Hunt is now actively involved in  NCSU’s Emerging Issues Institute. Here are some selected nuggets:

  • During my life, I came to realize that one of the best ways to exercise leadership is to do it with partners.  This leadership by partnership requires a lot of people working together to to achieve success.  Now, good leaders have to have good ideas, a vision.  They have to understand the importance of ideas and that their own idea may need a lot more, a lot of vetting. 
  • Then I had an experience that really shaped me.  I think that all good leaders can cite something that happened in their life that really touched them, that grabbed their attention.  I used to run on my farm in Wilson County and on my route – across the interstate highway – was an old ramshackle house.  There were beer bottles covering the front yard, old worn-out cars up on blocks, and I noticed that this little child would come out the front door with a millk bottle in his hand trying to get some milk from the bottle.  He’d be sucking this empty bottle, always in a diaper and nothing else, even during the coldest winter days.  It was clear to me that there was nobody in that house taking care of that child.  So I said to myself “What chance is that child going to have?  This isn’t right!” 
  • I laid out my idea: to give these children a good start, to provide high-quality early childhood education for them, and to help their parents be successful.  Again, this was in my campaign for the governorship in 1992: there were town hall gatherings, one-on-one conversations.  The people of North Carolina answered by re-electing me overwhelmingly for a third term, and in doing so, they were saying what they wanted to do about one of the biggest problems in the state.  They didn’t just elect a governor; they made a commitment to education for young children, to Smart Start.  The key or secret to that success was this:  the leadership was a partnership with the caring people of North Carolina.

What instances have you seen where leadership through partnership was very effective?