Promote Frontline Leadership: Jared Benko of Mississippi State University is creating an environment where his team is empowered to make decisions, motivate, and ultimately unlock opportunities for the greater good while he works with them directly toward common goals.
“To me, at the end of the day, it’s about establishing expectations and promoting a culture of frontline decision making and accountability. One of the best things you can do as a leader is to put people in a position to be successful and get out of the way. I want to help by trying to remove roadblocks for my departmental leaders, but ultimately I want to reinforce expectations, to hold people accountable for their actions, and then if they make a mistake, evaluate why and help them learn from it,” Benko explains.
It is the frontline managers who are tasked with bolstering the morale of the people who do the work—those who interact directly with the students, fans, and supporters. These managers are central to the University’s success because they are charged with executing. Benko understands and acknowledges that in his leadership style.
Benko reflects on something colleague Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State football coach instills, too, “No one rises to low expectations.” Setting high expectations and following through are crucial in Benko’s eyes. He wants his team to work hard and they do, knowing he cares. He steps out in front, takes the arrows, and helps them forge ahead.
“I’ve always wanted to lead people to a spot rather than dragging them to it; that’s really important.” And they do follow him, most likely because Benko gives of himself. He believes that investing in others and giving of one’s self is crucial to build trust and camaraderie and has done so in the positions he’s occupied across the Southeastern Conference. Hailing from Georgia, Benko got his education and then landed a gig with the Braves and Falcons before his tenure in Arkansas and at Auburn.
Now, armed with dedication and experience, he’s leading the Bulldogs to success, “I think it starts with a vision. (You have to be) humble to serve others and always tell the truth. Those are the three principles that I’ve tried to always live by. This is my fourth institution in the conference and so to me, and whether you inherit a team or you assemble one, your responsibility as a leader is to position members of your team for success.”
Mississippi State AD John Cohen joins us in honoring Banko, “Jared is very deserving of this recognition. He has displayed leadership and vision along with a tireless work ethic. There is no doubt that he will be an excellent Athletic Director. We appreciate all of his efforts at Mississippi State.” We appreciate them too, and are proud to have Jared Benko is part of the 2018 NEXT UP class.