Season 4 | Our State Foresters | Episode 7

#64 | Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other

May 9, 2018 | Larry Kotchman

Larry Kotchman has been the State Forester of North Dakota for the last 31 years; he is currently the longest active serving State Forester. In this role, Larry is responsible for the administration of the North Dakota Forest Service, managing the agency’s $15 million budget, and directing statewide forestry services through three leadership teams. On today’s show, Larry discusses why building relationships and trust is a continuous process, leadership lessons he wished he’d learned sooner, and so much more!

Key Takeaways:

[:55] A message from Leadership Nature.

[1:35] A quick intro about Larry’s background.

[3:15] How did Larry become interested in forestry?

[6:15] What types of mentors has Larry had over the years?

[9:30] Larry shares what his first formal leadership job was like.

[12:25] As a State Forester, how is the leadership different compared to a more frontline manager?

[17:35] What was Larry’s experience like at Harvard? How does the executive fellow program on leadership work?

[19:50] What is like being the State Forester for North Dakota and what exciting programs are up ahead for the state?

[22:05] What’s the hardest part of being a leader?

[25:10] As a leader, it’s important to not only lead but to also shape the environment you’re in so that your team remains calm and has the confidence to excel at their tasks.

[27:20] What does Larry mean when he says that formal authority has its limitations?

[29:55] When making a transition to a different level of leadership, what are some of the best things you can do to handle that transition with your colleagues?

[32:05] What did Larry wish he’d learned sooner about leadership?

[38:25] Learning how to communicate effectively is a highly sought-after skill.

[42:25] Larry shares his thoughts about the future of forestry.

[47:25] Larry recommends reading the book, A Sand County Almanac!

Mentioned in This Episode:
A Sand County Almanac (Outdoor Essays & Reflections) by Aldo Leopold
Larry on LinkedIn


Leadership Nature is a proud supporter of #forestproud, a diverse community of forest stewards.