Leadership defined: What’s your definition?

November 2012 Posted in People

By Kristine Thomas

President John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Gen. Colin Powell, a retired four-star general for the U.S. Army and the Secretary of State serving under President George W. Bush, said, “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

What is a leader? What do people seek in a leader? Our Town asked several people how they defined leadership. Share your thoughts on Our Town’s Facebook page. Here’s what people said:

Welcomes conflict, open to ideas

Cathy Busha, 41, is a college instructor. She and her partner, Anna, have a newborn child.

What makes a good leader? “Ability to help people help themselves by listening, understanding and collaborating; genuine interest in others and a desire to work for the collective good; desire to self-educate, be open to critical feedback and a willingness for self-examination and openness to change.”

How does a good leader handle diversity or difference of opinion? “A good leader welcomes diverse opinions – conflict can create the best outcome because through conflict people grow; that said, a good leader has an individual set of core beliefs and guiding principles that guides her/his leadership.”

Lives a virtuous life

Kennedy High School Football Coach Randy Traeger hopes his team learns from him how to live a virtuous life so that when they are done playing high school sports they become better men, better husbands, and better fathers.

His role models are Saint Paul and his parents Joe and Kathy Traeger. “Good role models are very important in the development of a young person.

Problem is…finding them…and getting them to be willing to put in the “face-time” with kids to make an impactful difference in their life. Kids need good role models to “stand by them” and that means quantity time. Forget the whole quality thing. Kids don’t care so much about the abilities of their role models as they do their availability.”

Provides inspiration

Mount Angel artist Deborah Unger shared a quote she loves by Napoleon: “A leader is a dealer in hope.”

Willing to do the work

“A leader is someone who will lead people into a place rather than telling them what to do. They are willing to get into the mess with everyone else.”

Kyle Yates, 34, Silverton

What is in the best interest of …?

“I have somewhat of a limited perspective regarding leadership as my entire career has been within the educational arena. I have been blessed during my 40 years of teaching and serving as an administrator to work with some outstanding leaders. I think the three that have impacted me the most in my career are Len Federico, Guido Caldarazzo, and Craig Roessler.  Each of these men can be characterized by having a heart for kids, a reputation for integrity, and an ability to develop mutual investment by those who serve with them and for them. During times of stress and pressure from multiple sides and factions, they were always consistent in reducing the issues to one factor, that being “what is best for the students we serve”?  Educational leadership can be encompassed within those parameters.  Men and women of integrity doing what is best for students even when making that decision creates controversy and conflict. The three men I mention have careers that can be characterized by those qualities. I count myself most fortunate to have shared with and benefitted from their leadership.”

Dale L. Koger

Principal, Evergreen School

Disappointed by politicians 

“A leader is open-minded, receptive to ideas and compassionate. I have lost faith in our leaders and don’t watch the news because it irritates me and it just focuses on the negative stuff. I feel completely powerless, don’t trust politicians and don’t feel like my vote matters because our politicians don’t listen.”

Kristin Parker, Silverton

Honest and hard-working 

Mount Angel Police Chief Mike Healy quickly lists the traits of a leader as:

Recognize and develop the skills and abilities of your subordinates; Be willing and able to admit to making a mistake; Listen to your subordinates and Never quits learning.

Leads by example

“A leader is someone who says something and backs it up by doing what he says. A man of his word is a leader. A leader can take charge of a situation, no what is happening. My dad was a leader. He was a guy’s guy who was always confident in what he said and what he did.”

Curtis Allen, 33, Silverton business owner

Leading by serving

“I have always believed that the most effective leaders model what it is they want others to do and how they want others to act.  Leading by serving can be incredibly powerful.”

Linda Myers, Principal at Victor Point Elementary School 

Boyle’s mantra

“My hero is Gert Boyle; Chair of Columbia Sportswear. She lost her husband at a young age and built Columbia Sportswear into a worldwide company. Her mantra is “Go Fast and the wrinkles won’t show.” A good leader assembles a smart, capable team and then turns them loose! A good leader has the ability to trust people; and make good decisions. A good leader looks at the big picture and makes decisions that benefit everyone.”

Maureen Ernst

Mount Angel

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