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Appalachian State University’s Chancellor Ken Peacock Shares Trait That Leads to Success in Leadership

March 25, 2014. Seize the opportunities that come your way. That advice was among the traits of successful leadership shared by Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock March 21 during the Harlan E. Boyles Distinguished CEO Lecture. The lecture series is presented by Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business.

“Embrace the arts, embrace athletics, embrace the other side of who you are,” Peacock said. “That’s important. To be a successful leader takes more than the command of your academic training. Just being a seasoned professional knowing all the facts doesn’t work.”

Peacock told of preparing to meet a client soon after he joined Price Waterhouse in Winston-Salem as an accountant. Peacock said he reviewed the client’s tax materials to be able to answer any question the client might have. Instead, the client asked Peacock if he liked music, and then invited him to play a grand piano that had just been delivered.

“We bonded over music, not accounting skills,” Peacock said. “Just knowing your material isn’t enough.”

Peacock said that good leaders use their leadership gifts to serve others. 

“Find out how you can use your skills to serve others and meet their needs,” he said. “Let them know they are appreciated, admired and respected. The most important thing to me about this job and leadership position is that you have a chance to touch someone’s life, you have the chance to make a difference.”

He also spoke of the importance of support from others, whether it’s members of your leadership team or family members. 

“To be successful in the professional world, you’ve got to have support and encouragement at home and I have for 39 years had the right person,” he said, acknowledging his wife, Rosanne. 

“I can’t tell you what she has meant to me and what she has meant to the university. It takes a team at the office and it takes support from home. Building the right leadership team and having support in your professional life creates a climate for leadership success.”

Other important skills of a good leader are the willingness to listen to others, being prepared and anticipating the unexpected, and valuing and appreciating others. 

Equally important, Peacock said, is to always maintain a sense of youthfulness. 

“Seize your youthfulness,” he told the students in the audience. “This is the time when you are more daring, not afraid to take a chance or afraid of failure. Seize that feeling and carry it with you. Keep that sense of youthfulness and daringness.”

“Seize that opportunity to lead,” Peacock told the students. “We need leaders in all areas of this country, whether it’s in the political, business or nonprofit world.”

Peacock is stepping down as chancellor at the end of June. He will be succeeded by Dr. Sheri Noren Everts, who is currently provost and vice president for academic affairs. at Illinois State University.