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The Link Between Good Leadership and Wellbeing

I once attended a workshop with Ed O’Malley, an author and expert on leadership, who said, “There is a link between leadership and well-being.” That comment hit a chord with me, and it continues to play in my mind. We get a say in our success. States that prosper benefit from great leadership.

For many years, I worked closely with Utah’s former Governor Mike Leavitt. He taught me that prosperity is a relay race. That each generation of leaders runs their lap and then passes the baton. Each runner is propelled by the runner of an earlier lap. It’s a generational relay. And when each generation of leaders does their part, those they lead prosper. Right now, thanks to great leadership—past and present—Utah is winning the race. Here’s how:

Changes To Our Transportation Systems Have Increased Our Wellbeing

Economists encourage investment because it increases productivity. The rebuild of I-15 through Utah’s urban center lowered transportation costs for businesses and households by reducing congestion. Consider the magnitude of the I-15 CORE project in Utah County. It involved 10 new interchanges, 63 bridges, and 655 new signs. Elected officials made hard choices and Utahns made sacrifices. Today, we are the beneficiaries of this investment.

A similar story can be told for Utah’s outstanding rail transit system and the current rebuild of the Salt

Lake City International Airport. These are huge capital assets. Investment in them improves worker and business productivity and our life quality. It makes Utah more successful and attractive, today and in the future.

Changes To Our Education Systems Have Increased Our Wellbeing

The state also made huge strides in investing more in public and higher education. The 2018 Utah Legislature reached a compromise with a citizens’ initiative called Our Schools Now. They agreed to fund public education enrollment growth plus $375 million annually in increased investment. The plan requires voters to approve a motor fuel tax increase this fall. If successful, per pupil spending will rise by $845. The compromise also includes significant new money for higher education to pay for growth, salaries and scholarships. The Our Schools Now compromise is a great example of today’s decision-makers running their generational lap with pace, ensuring better outcomes for future Utahns.

Investing In Technology Has Increased Our Wellbeing

Utah is also home to Silicon Slopes, where companies like Adobe, Vivint, eBay, IM Flash, Pluralsight, Qualtrics, InsideSales, Dell, Lucid, Domo, Banyan, and many others employ thousands of Utahns. The 25-mile stretch from Midvale to Pleasant Grove accounted for nearly 40 percent of Utah’s job growth since 2010. That’s more than 90,000 net new jobs! This economic dynamism would not be happening, but for smart decisions by business leaders and elected officials to provide the needed workforce and infrastructure. Utah’s beautiful landscapes don’t hurt either!

What’s Next?

When I meet with business leaders and elected officials I always encourage them to relish prosperous times, but continually assess how they can run a better race before they pass the baton. On behalf of a grateful state, I want to thank Utah governors and legislators, past and present, for their service. There is a link between leadership and prosperity and Utah has found it.