Community leaders get tips on the trade

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 31, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Nearly 75 members of the local community came to Rooster Hall on Thursday to participate in a leadership seminar sponsored by a Rural Alabama Initiative Grant awarded to the Black Belt Mayors through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University.

The format of the evening included some lecture, some discussion and some group discussion among tables. Catering was also provided by Napoleon&8217;s.

Representatives from the Demopolis Police Department, Demopolis Fire Department, Demopolis Public Works, Foster Farms, Linden Board of Education, Marengo County Schools and many other businesses and organizations were in attendance.

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Harris began his remarks by saying people are not born leaders, but are taught to become leaders. He also said leaders get to be in their position by being able to change and adapt in situations. Another important aspect of being a leader, he said, is being a negotiator.

According to Harris, research shows Americans, in general, only hear about 50 percent of what they are told. Of that 50 percent, he said, they retain and remember only about 25 percent.

One of the first exercises of the night was a table discussion about what the qualifications of a leader are. Responses from the audience included having a vision and being able to get people to see the same vision, attaining respect from followers and training followers to function without the constant aid of a leader.

Another exercise included filling out a questionnaire to determine the kind of leadership style a person uses. Harris said most people strive to create a participative style of leadership, which increases a person&8217;s sense of responsibility, leads to better solutions to problems and productivity.

Some of Harris&8217;s characteristics for the most important to effective leadership included:

-Honesty and integrity

-Clearly communicate expectations

-Recognize and reward achievement

-Adapt to changing circumstances

-Inspire others

-Put right people in right roles at the right time

-Passion to succeed

-Identify and articulate vision for future

-Persuade and encourage others

-Accept responsibility for success and failures