I recently took on a new challenge in my professional development. I was accepted to a program in our county that develops leaders with the goal that they become more active and involved in leadership facets of their workplace and community. The question I had in my mind from the beginning was,” The desire to be led?” or maybe it is best said as a statement?
I was fascinated as I along with my classmates toured Tuscarawas county yesterday. After a 200 year history from Mr. Fred Miller of the Tuscarawas Historical Society he made it very clear that leadership at it’s root is individuals who don’t repeat the actions that lead in the wrong direction. We are charged to learn how to listen to our past and react in such a way that moves us forward. At Britenbach Winery we learned that families behave as corporations but each generation has left their fingerprints on the business and future generations will as well.
At Andres Dairy Farm we heard how agriculture is the number one business in Ohio and the frailty of our food chain is so misunderstood. Government regulation, reliable workforce, and the uncertainty of future generations of farmers put many question marks on where will our food come from in the future. Not to mention the financial risks on razor thin margins are not an appeal to feed the world today.
Industry is beginning to rebound and in some cases expand CAT Ohio was a good example as well as the expansion of Tusco Display. You cannot believe everything you read in the press, manufacturing in particular is growing here in Ohio. The greatest challenge to manufacturing today is finding people interested in getting dirty and the technical know how to do the job. The days of repetitive production of a single piece are not gone, but the need is in individuals with computer aided technology skills, the ability to read prints, perform complex mathematical equations, even so far as to say engineers that do production to make today’s factories and manufacturing go.
Leaders are not always an individual sometimes they are a group. A handful of committed (in more ways than one) people that become the catalyst to make change occur. We heard about how a group of people saved a towns’ park and then went on to build it into a central hub for surrounding communities to enjoy.
On the flip side we did see the need in our county. The local food bank provided us with a real tangible illustration of how needy we are. 500 families a week visit the food bank to receive a boost to their cupboards to get by. Food drives of canned and dry goods are always appreciated, but the real power comes in monetary donations. An average canned good is about .66 cents in the store, that same canned good cost about .06 if purchased directly from the program providers. Our food bank distributes roughly 30,000 pounds of food stuffs a week. The Post Office canned food drive collected 15,000 pounds that was donated this year. That would only cover half the demand for one week. The food bank is 100% volunteer run and it take 40 volunteers per shift two days a week to make it all go. The best news was that the vast majority of food bank users are folks needing a short term bit of help. As jobs are found or people are called back to work their need is diminished, but there are plenty of people who still go hungry today.
In most every instance the biggest take away was every circumstance included the answer to my question/statement; The desire to be led. Owners, managers, and directors wear the hat that we universally recognize as “the leader”, but how did they get there and how do they remain? At what point do they take on the role of sheep not shepherd?
Every leader, every business owner, every supervisor pointed it out pretty plainly. They were all driven by a desire to be led. An idea that great wasn’t too much to want, that too big wasn’t big enough, others can decide the course of action and impart wisdom and expertise we don’t possess even if they are many years our junior.
I look forward to this years challenges of Leadership Tuscarawas and finding my desire to be led. As far as my class and the projects and efforts we will accomplish? I think Margaret Mead said it like this,”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”