Today, we spoke with Kat Rutledge, Director of the Small Business Development Center.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?

Kat: One of my very first Vice Presidents that I worked for in the credit union industry, Mary Beth Scott. I was a very young leader and she was so helpful to me in learning to discern the needs of other leaders around me and above me. In understanding their styles, personalities, and needs I can adjust my responses and create much more impactful outcomes.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Kat: Every great leader I have ever worked with was a superb listener. They are never fixated on their own knowledge or the sound of their own voice. You can learn so much and influence most effectively by listening for understanding.

What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

Kat: In my lifetime the idea of “position power” has been decimated by the lack of personal integrity in leadership and spot-lighted by media for all the world to see. Generation X, the millennials, and younger now fully expect leaders to earn respect. It is no longer a right given to you by title. This will be an on-going challenge for leaders of all types as with every new employee, you will be earning their respect not just the other way around. That is, if you want to be successful in employing them.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

Kat: Reading great books and attending events like Leadercast. You have to get out and take the time to be a lifelong learner!

In May, we will host the Maximum Impact Leadercast event at Oregon Tech. This exciting event brings world-renowned speakers together to share their knowledge and experience with you. As we countdown to Klamath’s premiere leadership event, we wanted to spotlight a few of our local leaders.

Kat Rutledge and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will be at our Maximum Impact Leadercast event on May 8th. As a sponsor, the SBDC will have a table set up and our guests can stop by to visit and learn more about their efforts to strengthen the business community.