Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries

Just Say Yes: Sharing Your Time Builds Your Talents

Barbara A. Knuth

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch27

I have had many opportunities to observe and learn from other leaders. Two key lessons I gained from these experiences are first, that effective leaders respect others, even during disagreements, and second, that strong organizational and communication skills are paramount. Ineffective leaders do not exhibit such qualities. These lessons recurred throughout my career, as a professor, graduate school dean, and senior vice provost at Cornell University; as an officer and president of the American Fisheries Society (AFS); and through both professional and personal engagements on many volunteer committees and boards.

As both leader (leading my own unit) and follower (responsible to higher-up leaders) in these roles, I’ve also learned the value of engaging others, the importance of reaching out to make connections, and the rewards of saying yes when asked to be involved. Most of the leadership positions I have held in both university and professional society contexts resulted because I was invited by senior leaders of the organizations or elected by peers after being invited to stand for election. My point is that I have rarely applied for any of these opportunities…except for the primary job I was hired into at Cornell, of course, as an assistant professor of natural resource policy. These leaders observed my actions and accomplishments, and they reached out to invite me to engage at progressively higher levels of service, eventually assuming leadership roles myself.