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Stick to the Basics: The Leadership Wisdom of Dave Christiansen

Dave Christiansen; headshot

Dave Christiansen, CEO of MKC

If asked to describe his leadership philosophy, Dave Christiansen may offer you this quote from Walter Lippmann: “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on. The genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully.”

In other words, as President & CEO of Mid-Kansas Coop (MKC) Christiansen spends the majority of his time clearly communicating expectations and vision to, establishing culture for, and developing future leaders from roughly 400 full-time employees. It’s no small leadership challenge. But from Christiansen’s perspective, meeting the challenge of attracting, recruiting, and retaining the best people is a matter of building a strong company culture.

He first realized the power of company culture while observing employees working backstage at Walt Disney World. One woman in particular stuck out: she was a member of housekeeping, working in the laundry room, a difficult and largely invisible role. Yet, despite the hard work, she was smiling through it all. “When I asked her how her day was going, she said, ‘Great!’ She told me she had one of the best jobs on property,” Christiansen recalled.

 

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