Commissioners president offers different view of leadership

March 19, 2011|By ART CALLAHAM

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested to you that I would ask local leaders to submit a response of up to 500 words outlining that leader's view on the concept of leadership.

Over the next few months, maybe one a month, I'll fulfill my promise to you and our local leaders. I have chosen our elected board of Washington County Commissioners as the first group to comment on leadership. Later, I will ask the mayors of our municipalities for their input. If the first few go well — which means getting some feedback from you, the readers — I might even ask some private sector leaders to comment.

So, what was the driving force behind this idea? The current leaders within our community are not getting younger. Let's face it. As time goes by, we all get older. If this community is to continue to thrive, we need to develop new leaders to take the place of those leading today.  But those new leaders must learn from those who lead today — not only lessons the new leaders agree with, but also lessons with which they disagree.

The question I asked of each of the County Commissioners was this: "How do you define leadership and/or how will you lead this community?"

What follows is the response from County Commissioners President Terry Baker. The second-term commissioner received the most votes in the last election. He has previous political experience as an elected official in the town of Clear Spring.

Baker writes:

"Effective leadership demands that a person not only possesses many qualities, but that the person has the capability to put these qualities into practice fairly in the diverse situations that accompany leadership.

"The honest application of these qualities results in the integrity of the leader. It is this integrity that should be present in every action he or she takes as an elected official.

"As a leader who is faced with decisions each day that affect those who elected him or her, it is of great importance that he or she keep abreast of current situations and address these situations with the integrity that befits a leader.

"I have chosen to list the following qualities that I feel are the backbone of any leadership position:

  •  To listen to the voice of the people;
  •  To value the honest opinion of my colleagues and my constituents;
  •  To base decisions on what is best for the people I represent;
  •  To be honest at all times;
  •  To resist the temptation of inducements that allows special interest groups to thrive;  
  •  To guide with a clean and clear conscience."

Art Callaham is a local community activist and president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees.

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