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A unique opportunity for moving in a positive direction Changing of the Guard

ceremony that people still watch today. Although I have just described the origin of the phrase, the com- mon use of the phrase “changing of the guard” is now used to refer to a situation in which there is a dramatic or big change. A “changing of the guard” is basically a time in which new people are replacing other people in positions of importance. In January we will see the “changing of the guard” at many levels


of government, but I want to speak directly about state and county government in Arkansas. At the state level we will have a new Gover- nor. In fact, we will see new officials in at least five of the seven state constitutional offices, and the other two incumbent state officials have opposition in the November general election. Over one-third of the state House of Representatives will be new, along with several new members of the state Senate. And there will be dozens of new county and district officials. I trust that all newly elected officials, as well as you who retain office — at any level — will not be so dogmatic that you cannot accomplish anything. Because accomplishing good things for the people of Arkansas is what public service is all about, regardless of party label. Many that decide to try their hand at political office are too far right or too far left to do anyone any good. Te vast major- ity of the populace is somewhere near the middle in their political thinking, and that is the vantage point from which one can effectively govern. If you are somewhere near the middle you can find common ground on most issues to help solve problems. Changing of the guard could and should be a positive event. Even if you have not thought about it, an elected official is a leader — or should be. Tere are a number of important qualities or traits that should be evident in an elected leader. Some sit around and pontificate about whether leaders are made or born. Te true leader ignores those discussions and concentrates on developing the leader- ship qualities needed to lead and serve because a true elected leader is also a servant. We’re going to talk about five of those traits — five qualities that come from Kouzes and Posner’s research into leadership that was done for the book Te Leadership Challenge.

Here they are: 1. Honest 2. 3. 4. 5.

Forward-Looking Competent Inspiring Intelligent

Your ability to exhibit these five leadership qualities is strongly connected with people’s desire to follow your lead. It is important to exhibit and display these traits. Simply possessing those traits is not enough; you have to display them in a way that people notice. People want to see their leaders actively demonstrate these leadership quali- ties and won’t just assume that you have them.


he phrase “changing of the guard” was originally used to refer to the event when guards of Buckingham Palace would change so that new guards would replace them to take on a different shift. Tis event became an elaborate

Seems To Me...

Honesty People want to follow an hon- est leader. It was not that long ago that people assumed their elected leadership was honest simply because of the authority and status of the position. With all of the modern-day scandals, this is no longer true. When you start your elected leader- ship position, you must assume that many people will think you are a little dishonest. In order to be seen as an honest individual and leader, you will have to go out of your way to display honesty. Te electorate will not assume you are honest simply because you have never been caught lying, stealing, or any of those other things that exhibit a person’s dishonesty and have been the subject of so many scandals of the elected leader. One of the most frequent places where leaders miss an oppor- tunity to display honesty is in handling mistakes. Even as a leader you are still human — and humans make mistakes. Naturally, as an elected leader, you will try new approaches and refine ideas and procedures. Sometimes the new does not work. Leaders, of course, always want to avoid failure, sometimes to the extent that they don’t admit their mistakes.

Eddie A. Jones County Consultant

Bottom line? An elected leader should be honest to a fault. Op-

portunities to display honesty on a large scale may not happen every day. As a leader, showing people that you are honest even when it means admitting a mistake, showcases an important trait that people are looking for in their leaders. Honesty and wisdom are close kin. As Tomas Jefferson said,

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.” Forward-Looking

Te whole point of leadership is figuring out where to go and how to get there. Te real leadership part is communicating those ideas effectively. Warren Bennis, a pioneer in the field of leadership studies who died in July, said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

When a leader doesn’t have a clear vision for the future, it is usu- ally because they are spending too much time on today. Tat can be solved simplistically by setting time aside for planning, strategizing and thinking about the future. Many times when a leader has no time to think and plan for the future, it is because they are doing a poor job of leading in the present. Tey have created an organization, system or staff that relies too much on the leader for input at every stage. [I am so “hands-on” that this is probably my weakest point as a leader.] On the other hand, some leaders have a clear vision, but they are hesitant to share it. Tey are concerned that they will lose credibil- ity if they share a vision that does not “pan out.” I suppose this is a legitimate concern. So just do your best to completely vet your ideas, trying to make sure that your vision of where to go and how to get there is attainable. Don’t let fear of communicating your vision hamper your leader-


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