June 15, 2014

Leaders in the business of change

We instill upon our leaders an overwhelming responsibility. Sometimes, we seem to work hard to convert their obligation to an impossible burden. That is our fault, not theirs.

I wish I had more hands and feet. That way, I’d be better able to count the visionary leaders we brought to our community or raised from within, then we tired of their vision all too quickly.

We need visionaries. Ideally, we’d also give them the resources to realize their vision, and to keep the lights on. In these resource-tight days, we often rob them of the necessary resources, so they must simultaneously be leaders and administrators. Most know that coming in, and temper their vision for something less lofty. That compromise is a reasonable response to an unfortunate set of circumstances.

It is difficult to lead and to administer at the same time, though. To an administrator who wears green eyeshades and is often looking down, the leader spends too much time in the clouds imagining not what is, but what could be. The leader appreciates the administrator’s focus on the day-to-day much more than the administrator appreciates all the zigs and zags that leaders constantly discuss.

One can see how these two personalities cannot be embodied in the same person. I can’t think of an accountant who has risen to national or global leadership prominence, and I don’t want Bill Clinton to do my taxes. We need both types of people though.

This world is evolving so quickly that to merely stand still is to fall woefully behind. There was a time when progress was so broadly spread that even the most inertial region or organization was swept up in broad momentum, but not any more. Especially in rural regions like ours, we have to redouble our efforts to even maintain our current quality of life.

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