AL BOLEA: In turbulent times, Alaska needs a leader as governor

By Al Bolea
Anchorage Daily News, July 9, 2022

Nothing good happens without leadership.

As Alaska navigates historic changes and unprecedented political division, it is more critical than ever that our most senior state executive — the governor — is a proven leader, ready to solve the many difficult issues that lie ahead over the next four years.

Many Alaskans have heard me speak about the importance of leadership in my leadership course at the University of Alaska or in training programs through their employer.

I know a leader when I see one, and the person we need at the helm now is Bill Walker. We can’t afford false starts or on-the-job training. Bill has done the job. He’s learned what does and does not work. He knows what needs to be done. Moreover, Bill has displayed the essential traits of great leaders.

First and foremost, Bill is courageous. He does not shy away from challenges, and he confronts issues head-on: from policies making the budget and the Permanent Fund sustainable to expanding Medicaid to provide tens of thousands of people with health care to increasing the ability of Alaska Native people to make decisions for themselves.

Second, Bill has a unique ability to engage people in conversations where he listens as much as speaks. It’s a true exchange of ideas — not a download of some favorite talking points. Bill learns through these exchanges, and he adapts to situations and the views of others, especially when presented with sound arguments. He does not hide from people who disagree with him — he hears them out.

Third, and what Alaska needs most, Bill is a man of integrity. He knows that there’s a fine line between what a person espouses and the way he or she shows up. He never crosses the line, always holding true to his convictions, and never tolerates people who do cross the line. His past record is a testament to this, and you can see it again in his selection of Heidi Drygas as his running mate. She’s a person of conviction and someone who earns the trust of others.

A wise person once said to me, “Great leaders don’t situate their reality; they understand the reality of their situation.”

Bill and Heidi understand the reality of Alaska’s situation. They will shape a direction for our state that will take us into a viable future. That’s no small task. There’s no easy road ahead of us, and we can’t waste time on the delusional aspirations of politicians who do not have the ability to lead our state.

Al Bolea is retired from running a leadership training and coaching company, Applied Leadership Seminars LLC, recognized as one of the top corporate programs in the world by Leadership Excellence and awarded a prestigious LEAD honor for Best Executive Coaching Program. He’s the author of three highly regarded leadership books, published in by Routledge Press. He is also a retired BP executive, with many years of experience in Alaska, and a former CEO of a large independent oil and gas company in the Middle East.