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Newton talks organizational leadership, culture and complacency at Annual Dinner

At the 2023 NCLifeSci Annual Dinner, Sen. Paul Newton, co-chair of the Life Sciences Caucus in the NC General Assembly, shared his insights on leadership, culture and complacency in organizations. 

Key takeaways from Newton’s talk were 

  • prioritize long-term thinking when investing in North Carolina, 
  • focus on "everyday excellence" and continuous improvement, 
  • put others first to achieve personal and organizational success, 
  • avoid complacency by creating a culture of excellence and encouraging managers to prioritize their employees and 
  • trust in your management team. 

Newton emphasized the importance of long-term thinking when investing in North Carolina. He noted that the state's tax and regulatory structure is designed for 50-plus years and said that businesses should prioritize sustainability over short-term gains. 

“We would love to help you be successful,” he said. “And it's for the long haul, right? Our tax structure, our regulatory structure is designed for you to know that if you make an investment in North Carolina, it's going to be good for 50-plus years.” 

He also emphasized the importance of "everyday excellence" in organizations. Newton argued that businesses should not wait for a crisis to drive change but should instead focus on continuous improvement. 

“No organization, no leader, nobody in this room, wants their organization to stumble upon a crisis as the precipitator for change,” Newton said. “So how can we do it better?” 

Start by putting others first as doing so is the best way to advance yourself and create success for your organization, he said. 

“If you sincerely put other people first, you yourself will see achievement like you've never thought possible,” he said.  

Newton also discussed the dangers of complacency in organizations. He warned that complacency can lead to governance issues, boredom and a lack of awareness about threats to the business model. 

“Examine what complacency is for your organization, because that's the trap,” he said. “Just viciously attack complacency, to make sure people are awake.” 

To avoid complacency, Newton encouraged businesses to create a culture of excellence and again encouraged managers to prioritize their employees. 

Finally, Newton made a pitch for companies to locate in North Carolina as a way to meet their sustainability goals. 

“Another reason I believe to choose North Carolina is because we are going to reduce carbon, but we're going to do it cost effectively without crushing the poor and without running our businesses out of town,” he said. 

North Carolina has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its electric power sector by 70% below 2005 levels by 2030 and to attain carbon neutrality by 2050. 

“If you have carbon reduction goals that you're working toward and your shareholders are looking to buy a certain amount carbon-free electrons, let North Carolina do that for you,” Newton said. “There's nothing cheaper for you than to let North Carolina do it for you instead of your shareholders paying every dime of your sustainability goals.”