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What’s “The One Thing” that makes a leader worth following?

Strateligent’s CEO and Creative Director Aaron Hautala recently presented during the local lunch segment of Leadercast, a nationally broadcast leadership seminar hosted locally by Sourcewell at Timbers Event Center in Staples, Minnesota. Approximately 70 local and regional leaders in education, non-profit, manufacturing, and healthcare, attended.


This year’s Leadercast invited ten of the world’s most influential leaders to give a talk on “The One Thing” that makes a leader worth following. Each host site also invited a respected community leader in the community to share their perspectives to local attendees. For Hautala, that one thing is building relationships.


“Good leadership starts with building relationships—and those relationships make the impossible, possible,” said Hautala. “When you choose collaboration instead of competition, you accomplish goals that benefit everyone within that community, organization, or destination.”


He speaks from experience. He helped guide the relationship building and collaboration that raised $6 million to invest in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area mountain bicycle trail system in 2014.


The relationships between community members, local businesses, chambers of commerce, state and local government, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, media outlets—even competitive tourism areas and bicycle brands—resulted in a flood of advocacy for a common goal. This collaboration revitalized a region, leading it to be named one of the best places to live by Outside Magazine, one of 16 Silver IMBA-certified Ride Centers in the world, and ranked the 17th Best Mountain Bicycle Trail Systems in the World by


As CEO of Strateligent, Hautala coaches leaders on relationship building often, with clients throughout Minnesota and the Pacific Northwest. He offered these tips for creating successful relationships at home, at work, and in our communities:

  1. Be present.
  2. Care for the person, not their position.
  3. Forge a long-term strategy where obstacles are hills to gain a better view.
  4. Speak about the future as if it were already here.
  5. Accomplish impossible tasks while having the time of your life.
  6. Be consistent, persistent, and magnetic.


“As a leader, you have the power to convert passion into action. When you do that, productivity improves, people are happier, and objectives are met,” Hautala explained. “You don’t accomplish that by simply placing your vision statement on a coffee cup or framing it on the wall. It’s about building true, authentic, and trusting relationships.”


In addition to communication strategy, planning, and creative services, Strateligent provides consulting and coaching on culture transformation, including how to build powerful relationships within an organization and within the region it serves.


Want to see the full presentation? Click here to check out Aaron’s full Leadercast deck.