Season 4 | Our State Foresters | Episode 4

#61 | Leadership is related to ambition, and ambition is born

March 14, 2018 | Larry Biles

State Forester of Kansas Larry Biles has a BS in Forestry from the University of Missouri and an MS in Ornamental Horticulture from Kansas State University. During his career, Larry has held diverse roles in many parts of the profession, including positions with state agencies, the US Forest Service, consulting forestry, and national extension forestry program leader. Prior to becoming State Forester in 2008, Larry had been an extension forester, urban forester, multiple-use coordinator, national program leader, and director of the Southern Forest Research Partnership, to name a few job titles. Following two years with the U.S. Army, Larry spent eight years as a District Forester at Kansas State University. On the show, Larry shares his leadership experiences, what it means to be people-oriented, and discusses the benefits of working in urban forestry. One of his points: “Focus on the human side of your team, not just the tasks at hand.”

Key Takeaways:

[:55] A message from Leadership Nature.

[1:40] A quick intro about Larry’s background.

[3:45] How did Larry become interested in forestry?

[7:35] What kind of tasks did Larry do when he took his first job in forestry?

[9:25] Over the years, what were some of Larry’s favorite jobs?

[11:55] Urban forestry and community forestry are great opportunities for new foresters who may not be thinking about that as a career path.

[16:00] What have been some of the biggest challenges Larry has faced in his career?

[19:40] What are the demographics of Larry’s staff?

[21:00] What does Larry like the most about working with the younger generation?

[22:25] Larry discusses the difference in leadership style when you’re a frontline manager vs. a State Forester.

[25:55] What did Larry wish he’d learned sooner about managing people?

[27:25] How does Larry focus on being more people-oriented — as opposed to task-oriented — with his staff?

[30:25] Larry has some advice for students looking to get into forestry.

[34:10] What are some of the best ways to improve your leadership skills?

[37:00] How is the forestry profession changing as a whole and what do foresters need to do to be prepared for the future?

[41:20] Larry talks a little bit about the history of the Kansas Forest Service.

[43:50] How does Larry attract and retain new talent?

Mentioned in This Episode:
Eyes on the Horizon: Serving on the Front Lines of National Security, by Richard Myers and Malcolm McConnell


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