Garges Speech on Leadership

Similar to her "Speech on Leadership," this speech discusses Ruth's thoughts on the four types of leaders.

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People studying leadership often question whether it is born or bred. Is it more a product of nature or nurture? I have yet to see a definitive answer and have seen a blend of both in my own life.

By nature I am inquisitive, dominant, engineer-problem solver, who always asks the question “why.” (My father insists I came out of the womb asking “why.")

By nurture, I was heavily impacted by my parents and by my setting.

  • My parents modeled civic service and engagement even when it was uncomfortable or controversial. My dad was on the school board during integration and my mother was on the planning Council during urbanization.
  • My setting was across the street from Little Sugar Creek, the Nature Museum, and FreedomPark. I grew up playing in and around that area which created in me a deep love for and curiosity about nature, open space and stormwater. Later, we moved over near the Mint Museum and the regularly flooded Briar Creek. The Mint Museum was free that that time (and air conditioned!) so that setting furthered my love of art and my interest in stormwater.

What eventually brought them all together and created a clearer purpose and calling was my personal Christian faith.

The Gospel of Matthew has Jesus giving us two, all-encompassing Commandments.

  1. The first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. I understood that an important part of loving God is that I am to appreciate all that he has made and obey his commands. One of his earliest commands was to subdue the earth and rule over it, often called “the dominion mandate.” (Give the story of the perspective of Adam and Eve for the word “dominion.”)
  2. The second commandment in Matthew is to love your neighbor as yourself. Who my neighbor is depends on my role and where I serve. As a politician, I viewed my neighbor has not only my constituents but also my colleagues and staff. I was called to love and serve them as I love and serve myself, which isn’t always easy to do!!

So what do these commandments have to do with leadership?

There are four types of leadership commonly identified in most leadership literature.

  1. The first is hierarchical/positional; Positional leadership like a boss, king/queen, or legislator. The position has power and influence because it has the ability to enforce penalties against transgressor.
  2. A second form of leadership is identified by control; doctor, firemen, office staff.They may not have the power of enforcement, but they do have power and influence because of their ability to prevent harm and/or enable good. (Relate the story about realizing that theCounty commission staff really runs things because they knew how things really worked!)
  3. A third type of classic leadership is based on knowledge and innovation, being the first. If you invent it, you have a lot of power and influence because you create opportunity. Apple and SteveJobs, Founding Fathers and Constitution, MLK
  4. But a final view of leadership that is gaining in popularity but is still less recognized classically is service, commonly referred to as "servant leadership." A servant leader gains power and influence as others see that he or she helps others and things be their best. You see this in the biblical command to love your neighbor as yourself and in numerous biblical stories, but it is also the basis of many service organizations like Rotary and an increasing number of leadership training organizations like “The Mark of a Leader.”

So while nature gave me many of the skills for a capable leader and nurture gave me an interest in civic service and the environment, my faith brought them together as a way to love God and his creation while loving my neighbor through service. Service that has the goal of helping my neighbor and the things around my neighbor be their best. **

Examples from apolitical service;

  • As a commissioner, creation of the CatawbaRegional Trail which became the Carolina Thread Trail. Had used position to initiate but when I lost my positional power as a commissioner I saw the need to hand-off the project to others.
  • In the legislature, as Majority Whip, position opened doors to members and could be used to enforce. I often used those opportunities to help members work through issues, develop speaking skills, resolve conflict, and avoid mistakes. (NOT as seen in House of Cards!)

Today:

  • (Title) I am continuing the tradition of “leadership through service” as my Rotary Pres-Elect. While this does give me the classical leadership title and position, the organization has “service above self” as its mission. We focus on service at every meeting and I have also selected young and talented successors to mentor in preparation for when my term is over.
  • (No title) My new career in philanthropy withEIG, I have no leadership title or position but can still serve as a “servant leader.” My job is to help both donors and nonprofits do better with their resources and opportunities.

Which of the four types of leadership appeals to you most? Hierarchical, control, knowledge, or service?

They all have value but I personally believe we all perform best when service is still part of  our leadership style.

If you want to be a leader, keep in mind that you will never entirely control the first three classic opportunities to lead, but you can ALWAYS become a leader through the fourth!

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