Leadership Communique, 12/8/2013

Lessons in Leadership

Good frozen Sunday to you!

We are counting on clearing skies to assist our UCO crew in preparing the grounds for a safe

finals week. But please be cautious walking and driving. Slow and steady make

good sense in ice and snow. I want you to successfully complete this semester and return to

your family and friends for your holiday break.

Susanne and I were delighted to have you in our home this past week. You all looked

marvelous, and I am confident that you harvested hundreds of photos. I enjoyed speaking

with many of you about your studies, families and aspirations. You are all members of

UCO leadership programs we intentionally created to encourage and prepare graduates to

assume roles throughout our world, from local to global. We are committed to offering you

experiences which, taken together, provide you with a value-added opportunity to learn and

exercise leadership as undergraduates. Leadership is one of UCO’s “Central Six”, high impact

practices intended to enhance your growth and development beyond your mastery of discipline

knowledge.

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner and former Edmond major Patrice Douglas was our

final L in L guest leader for the semester. Patrice is a vibrant public servant and a relevant role

model. Despite her demanding responsibilities, she was truly looking forward to her time with

you.

I was pleased that she included concepts from Bill George’s True North. She asked us to

consider what we value most and why. I know this is your blog topic this week in your interaction

with Jarrett. This “true north” alignment is connected to issues of integrity and character that

we have discussed earlier.

At the nucleus of effective leadership is a vitality and determination closely linked to service, to

others and to the fundamental rhythms of life that connect us all. Patrice and Bill George know

that we are all in an intensely human enterprise, that what each of us does impacts others, and

that, in the end, we our brother’s and sister’s keepers. Cultivating our expanding competence,

our honesty, our vision and our compassion demonstrably enhances our capacities to serve, our

leadership effectiveness, and the sense of satisfaction which is derived from our quality of life.

Please be sure to reach out Patrice to express your appreciation at some time in the coming

days.

Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who spent 27 years in prison for his

resistance to the apartheid regime that ruled his country, passed away this week at age 95.

For the next week, the world’s media will concentrate on the man, his legacy, his country

and the goodbye which will be witnessed by a massive global audience. South Africa can

seem distant from our world here in Oklahoma and at UCO, but the lessons to be discovered,

enshrined and retold are universal.

Many volumes have been written about Mandela, and more will follow. Former President

Bill Clinton places him in the rarest of company in the past century and more, listing him with

Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr as leaders with transforming impact on those around them,

and far beyond. Each was a recognized change agent who suffered at the hands of government

and local authorities in their campaigns to alter the circumstances under which people lived their

lives. None of the three was financially wealthy, controlled vast armies or territory, and all there

experienced humbling setbacks. Two were assassinated, martyred for the beliefs and their

actions.

Nelson Mandela’s ” martyrdom” was to spend 27 years in an isolated island prison off the coast

of Capetown, a hard labor confinement intended to rob its captives of hope. But changes within

the global political landscape, in his own country, and his disciplined determination resulted not

only in his celebrated release in 1990, and also in his election as the first black president of a

South Africa historically controlled by its white minority citizenry.

There is so much to his story that includes the USA, the Cold War, nationalism, economic and

racial disparities, and struggles for democracy that continue in Africa and around the world. I

urge you to learn more about him and the world in which he fought for political, economic and

social justice.

Among the comments that are relevant to our goals here at UCO and for L in L include those

related to his character and leadership style. He has been identified as a man of courage,

character and compassion, a man who become the change he sought for his people and, by

example, for others. Mandela was a symbol of freedom for many in Africa and elsewhere. I

have seen his face on t-shirts in dozens of countries, proudly worn by the young and their

parents. Mandela was admired because he lived his values, but was also pragmatic In

achieving his goals of freedom and democracy, goals which, even today, remain elusive in his

home country. Even in the dark days in Robben Island prison, his fellow captives marveled at

his perpetual discipline. He remarked that his captors isolated him, but they could not take his

mind and heart.

Mandela is revered also because rather than seeking revenge for his lost decades in prison, he

molded and advocated for reconciliation, so essential if South Africa was to become the multi-
racial democracy Mandela envisioned.

There are so many quotable quotations attributed to Nelson Mandela. Here are just a sampling

with special meaning for us.

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”

And one which is hanging in the Nigh food court seating area, “It is impossible until it is done.”

Given the state of contemporary technology, the coverage of Mandela’s funeral and related

events will be exceptional. This is history as we watch, listen and learn.

I encourage you to observe and connect as your lives permit.

Finally, my best wishes for a highly successful conclusion to the semester’s work. All of you

should rightly count this as an notable achievement.

And offer a work a thanks and appreciation to Jarrett and Marissa for all their guidance and

assistance.

I am truly pleased that you are here with us at UCO. I will be following your pathways with

continuing interest.

Take care,

Don Betz