A Lesson in Leadership

Retired Ambassador Mark Johnson has completed 30 years as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, with a long line of accomplishments that he bears with humble pride. He has negotiated peace in the Middle East, helped free American diplomats in hostage crises, founded the Montana World Affairs Council, and served as the national Vice Chair of the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy.

Yet, when introducing himself, he states without hesitation, “The correct term for me is ‘recovering bureaucrat.’”

Ambassador Johnson speaks to a crowd of people.

The GLI Models of Leadership provide comfortable environments in which GLI sophomores can talk with world-renowned leaders, hear their stories, and discover the opportunities and successes that got them there.

“When I was growing up in Great Falls, the world didn’t matter. It should have, but it didn’t,” Johnson said. ”Your generation has the ability to define your agenda in a way that we could never do. Your generation has the ability to have its voice heard in a way that we never could.”

Models of Leadership (MOL) discussions provide students with the learned lessons of great leaders who have dealt intimately with the kind of global issues GLI students will come across in the coming years. As a seasoned negotiator, Johnson gave advice from his time as an Ambassador and a leader.

“I cannot render the best solution. But I can produce the fairest decision. We open up with people, and let them know why we made that decision,” Johnson said.

The MOL discussions are intended to inspire GLI students into leadership, potential career paths, and future study abroad and capstone projects. Johnson himself is a major advocate of the Global Leadership Initiative, and especially appreciates the program’s emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. “I wouldn’t call it ‘interdisciplinary.’ I would just call it ‘teamwork,’” he said. “It really gets to the nature of work.”

Johnson further lauded the GLI program. “I think you’re in the right place at the right time. You shouldn’t be anywhere else other than in the Global Leadership Initiative,” he said. “It isn’t important that you understand global issues. It is a duty.”

Models of Leadership discussions occur throughout the semester, and have attracted prestigious leaders from all corners of the world, including Glacier National Park’s superintendent, the vice president of Creative Advertisement at Paramount Pictures, journalists, politicians, writers, and influential executives from all fields.

Mark Johnson is a fourth generation Montanan and resides with his wife Sally Cummins in Lolo, Montana.