Can You Believe It?

On July 1, Dennis Muilenburg, a Sioux Center native and an Iowa State University graduate, became the 10th CEO of Boeing, the largest aerospace company in the world. Boeing is a $90 billion company with over 160,000 employees in 65 countries around the world.

Because Muilenburg is from Sioux Center, I have paid more attention to the story than I would have had he been from somewhere else. As I read articles regarding his promotion and what got him to this point, a couple of themes stood out to me. These themes reminded me of concepts we regularly discuss at Interstates as we talk about leadership. 

Humility: Muilenburg indicated he is humbled to have been given this opportunity. He never thought that when he joined the organization 30 years ago, he would ultimately ascend to the position of CEO. That reminded me of servant leadership. 

Developing Leaders: Jim McNerney was his predecessor as CEO. Muilenburg said of McNerney, “He has a real passion for developing leaders and developing talent. Among all the things I have learned from him, that’s the most valuable, and I plan to carry that on going forward.” We often talk about providing opportunities and investing in leadership. Boeing takes that very seriously. 

Co-Leadership: Most of Muilenburg’s experience with Boeing has dealt with defense systems which account for about thirty percent of the business. The board opted to name Raymond Conner as Vice-Chair of Boeing as he has been instrumental in the commercial side of Boeing’s business. Between the two of them, they complement each other well and have expertise in different areas. It is a good reminder to surround ourselves with people that have talents different than our own. 

I’m sure many other leadership concepts were discussed in our conversations at Interstates that could be found in other articles if we searched a little deeper. However, humility, developing leaders, and co-leadership jumped out at me as I read about the “small-town Iowa boy making it big.”  So, regardless if you are at the helm of a multi-billion dollar company or a committee member at a local nonprofit, leadership philosophy is the same and relevant. 

Continue Leading the Interstates Way!

Jack Woelber


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