A time to lead
Oct. 15, 2003
Leadership development programs take time to take root in a community and, thanks to generous funding from the Riley Foundation and other valuable resources, our community is well on the way. Hundreds of people have invested their personal time and effort in such programs as Leadership Lauderdale and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
As a new generation of leaders is being developed, however, some current officials seem to be having trouble letting go of the antiquated "leadership by intimidation" approach. These folks may look back one day and find that no one is following and realize, perhaps too late, that leaders can't lead without followers who are willing to follow.
In the meantime, there are sure to be tempests in teapots that serve only as distractions. Three recent examples:
The blowup over the $20 per prisoner per day that the city of Meridian pays to house prisoners in the Lauderdale County Detention Center. This fee was part of the original contract when the city decided to get out of the jail business. The fee has not increased over the years and to raise the issue now as if it were something new seems rather meaningless;
The failure of the city of Meridian to follow through on its commitment to furnish water and sewer service at the new I 20/59 Industrial Park. It is doubtful that the park the land was purchased by Lauderdale County can attract major tenants until water and sewer services are available. The city should work aggressively to make this happen;
Continuing squabbles over annexation issues and the cost of wastewater treatment service between Marion and Meridian. These two communities need to cooperate on projects that best serve their residents.
Above all, given the high potential of behind-the-scenes economic development contacts, this is a time for real leaders to put aside petty turf-building egos and political differences. All of the governing bodies in the confines of Lauderdale County need to stop the bickering and infighting.
Let's seize the opportunity and work together to build a cohesive, united, team that can make real progress, progress as measured by the willingness of people to follow leaders who lead in the same direction.