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I Believe in Giving People Mulligans January 30, 2011

Posted by integrityintegrated in Uncategorized.

“I don’t consider myself a born leader.  In fact I was rejected from both the Key Club and the Rotary Club at different times.” Steven Bahls, President of Augustana College.

Steven Bahls, President of Augustana College speaks to the 2011 Quad City Leadership Academy

Steve Bahls provided inspiring opening words to our Quad City Leadership Academy last Friday.  After talking about his initial failures, he went on to say that he did get involved with leadership positions in the Boy Scouts as well as other organizations.  In a candid and inspiring message with the participants, Steve reinforced the idea that leadership is more of an art than a science, and he provided his top six tips.  I won’t steal all of Steve’s great stories but do want to share a couple of them.

Lead where you are passionate.  Prior to coming to Augustana College, Steve served as Dean of the Capital University Law School in Columbus Ohio.  Steve went to meet with Dave Thomas, founder of Wendys and was excited about the opportunity to sell Dave on the idea of naming the law school after him.  Shortly into his presentation, Dave stopped him and said, “I don’t like attorneys.  Having grown up in the Foster system I understand how difficult lawyers made my life.”  Realizing it was best not to sell something impossible, Steve shifted gears.  Instead he worked with him to create the Dave Thomas College of Adoption Law.

Steve also talked about meeting with people at their 50 year class reunion from Augustana College.  Each person had 3 minutes to reflect on their lives.  (Can you imagine—3 minutes to reflect on your life of 73 years?)  “Many are still trying to figure out their calling.  They also talk about how they learned from their failures, false starts, failed marriages, etc.”

Employ Imagination Step outside your own shoes and look at problems from a different point of view.


Create a marketplace of ideas. Oliver Wendall Holmes said, “Truth is raised by the free trade of ideas.”  Steve said if he could be on a desert island with one person, it would be Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Surround yourself with strong people and learn how to listen to different ideas.

Don’t put your personal ethics on the shelf.

Everyone who succeeds has a mentor. Find a peer, inside or outside of your organization who will serve as your mentor.  This should be someone you totally trust, but also someone who will be direct with you.

Follow Micah 6:8. “He has shown you O man what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?    To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Pursue humility.  Steve said “I believe in giving people mulligans.  If I write people off for making mistakes, I’d be the only one in the room.”

Update 1/1/2012: Our blog has moved to a new home on our website, please visit us at http://integrityintegrated.com/resources/blog to read more!



1. Sonia - January 30, 2011

Sounds like an excellent session. Steve’s one to inspire for sure. Thanks for sharing his insights and for being the leader you are!

2. DougL - January 30, 2011

I like #6. Pursue humility. Outstanding.

3. Mary Jones - February 2, 2011

Great thoughts and wisdom. I’m impressed with and appreciate President Bahl’s humble approach to life. We are to be a servant to all. Thank you!

4. integrityintegrated - February 2, 2011

Servant leadership is such a great summary of how I view Steve’s leadership.

5. H.Upton - March 2, 2011

What a great summary! I graduated from Augie before he got there. Sounds like great leadership now. I also like the last one! I’m very happy to see that these principles still stand. Humility and Servanthood….will take you far.

6. integrityintegrated - March 2, 2011

Great to hear from you H Upton. You are certainly right that Augustana has had the benefit of going from one good leader to another. Here’s to all of our continued journeys with a commitment to Humility and Servanthood.

Ginny Wilson Peters, Integrity Integrated

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