Being a leader is no easy task. It takes humility, selflessness, vision, strong motivational skills, great focus and an ability to listen. And that just begins the list.
Perhaps above all else, it takes setting aside personal agendas and being willing to look at the big picture, a far different view than perhaps the one seen by others looking at the same situation.
Though they may not have realized its truth yet, new leaders of the Sampson County and Clinton City boards of education and the Sampson Community College Board of Trustees will learn quickly that the roles they’ve now being charged with upholding are far more difficult than just gaveling a meeting to order and learning the particulars of Roberts Rule’s of Order.
In truth, leading these very important boards and the educational institutions they represent is far more about charting a course and setting a tone than it is about the day-to-day administration. It’s a privilege that affords one the opportunity to better the lives of others but it is not a license to satisfy the wants and needs of oneself or a select few.
Robin Sharma, a Canadian writer and leadership speaker best known for his “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” series, said it best when he defined leadership this way: “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results; influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, inspiring those on your team.”
In each case, Tim Register, Carol Worely and Erika Starling have the opportunity now to influence and inspire, making a tremendous difference in the school systems they represent, setting a tone of progress and positive change that can only make our community a better place.
But each must understand their role, tamping down the desire to run each institution from on high, believing their ideas are the only ones that matter and taking an approach that extends their leadership beyond the board room and into the day-to-day operation of each institution.
Both public school boards and the community college’s trustees hold positions designed specifically as that of policy-makers. In other words, they set the tone; the day-to-day operation of the systems and the management of the employees within those institutions is left up to those hired as superintendents and presidents, individuals paid very nice salaries to carry out the policies put in place by the boards which Starling, Register and Worley now lead.
It becomes a slippery slope when board members, whether sitting in the chairman’s seat or some other position, begin to task themselves with implementing the very policies they set. That’s when the lines get blurred and employees lose sight of those from whom they are supposed to take instruction.
In a close-knit community like ours, it is difficult not to get in the weeds when complaints roll in, listening and then acting to right the ship, but it’s important to remember the leadership role we have and to carry it off with great aplomb, allowing others to do the same.
In Starling, Register and Worley we have the possibility of great leadership. All three have tremendous vision, a bend toward slow, deliberate progress and an understanding that change can be good if done for the right reasons.
Each in their own right is skilled at understanding people, the institutions they represent and the roles they now must play. We’ve no doubt they will make great strides in setting policies that will take our two public schools and our community college to greater heights, endeavors that can only bring with them powerful results.
President Harry S. Truman said progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. If he is right, and we believe he is, then those now charged with leading educational boards in our county will bring about tremendous progress that will move Sampson in the right direction.