Tag: lessons

Lessons in Leadership, Communique for 9/29/2013

Good day to you.

Earlier this week Ann Ackerman, the Executive Director of Leadership Oklahoma,  spent a session with you sharing part of her story and insights she has acquired across her multi-faceted career.  Leadership Oklahoma is one of the most effective and influential networks in our state. As she explained, each year 50 participants are selected from across Oklahoma frame every region and sector of society. They are united in their conviction that our communities in the state matter as places where people live, work, raise families and make contributions to the prosperity of their cities and towns.  They are equally focused on intentionally growing the leadership for our communities and our state.  LOK is comprised of over 1350 alumni who use their experience during their LOK year to learn more about the opportunities and challenges in the state,  to build connections, and then to branch out from their “class” to those who benefitted from LOK before and after their year. Ann has served as the coordinator of LOK with distinction.

As you move into your professional careers, I encourage you be involved in organizations  and activities, such as LOK, that are dedicated to advancing the quality of life in the state.  It is one way to actively craft your leadership skills and, via collaboration, to create community outcomes with other service-oriented citizens.  Oklahoma, our country and the planet will be shaped  by those who take the initiative.

This week has seen another round of startling developments that again call our attention to the seminal role of leadership.  On the international stage, interpersonal contacts and conversations on the sidelines of the main meetings that opened the 68th annual session of the United Nations in New York City have produced some unprecedented results and perhaps opened pathways for more cooperation on protracted global issues.

The principal public actors for the USA have been Sec of State John Kerry and President Obama.  This week both the President and the recently elected Irani President Hassan Rouhani demonstrated leadership on the global stage in deciding, at first via intermediaries, and then by phone and perhaps Twitter and text, to find a pathway to resolve the overarching issue of Iran’s nuclear program.  One of the reasons why this action has been so startling is that the two countries have had virtually no direct formal contact since 1979 and the Iranian revolution which overthrew their monarch, the Shah, who was a staunch US ally.

One result was the takeover of the US embassy in Teheran and the captivity of US diplomatic personnel for 444 days.  Once close regional allies, the USA and Iran have be estranged for decades.  This isolation of Iran, particularly due to concerns about the intention of its nuclear enrichment program (make weapons?), has not resolved the issues.  But changes in leadership and bold actions at the right moment can have a powerful effect of breaking through what can appear to be impenetrable impasses.  Presidents Obama and Rouhani, and Sec of State and his Iranian counterpart are creating a fresh platform from which to understand the current situation from all sides as well as identifying possible pathways to resolution. This is diplomacy practiced by the highest ranking political leaders in both countries.

A second example in the same week also occurred in regard to the debilitating  two and one-half year old civil war in Syria.  The leading players were the USA and Russia and the issue was the use of chemical weapons in the country which resulted in the deaths of almost 1500 Syrian citizens.  The overall civil war tolls are staggering with an  estimated 100,000  killed, and several million displaced in their own country or have fled to become refugees in neighboring states.

This past Friday evening the UN Security Council voted unanimously to condemn the use of these weapons.  This is important because due to the impasse between the US and Russia, as well as other countries, no action has been taken by the international community to address the calamity in Syria since in commenced in March 2011.  Again, it was individual leadership (Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov) and the connections that they made between them and their staffs that account for this unanticipated outcome.  There is much more to be decided and further steps to be taken, but it was individual leaders, actual people making connections and finding common ground, that created the outcomes.

There will be more to watch not only on the global stage, but significantly in the USA and in Congress this week as political divisions have created an impasse on funding the federal government that could result in a number of intended and unintended consequences.

All this may seem to be too much to digest at once, but these, historic, game-changing events are unfolding at this time.  I believe it is valuable for you to understand the sense of the issues and, given our mission in Lessons in Leadership, to observe and comprehend the roles and consequences of leadership, both effective and otherwise.  There are worthy lessons to be studied.

This week, Mr, David Cid, the Director of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism here in Oklahoma City, will be our special guest.

I wish you a week when you make a new acquaintance, make at least a small difference  in someone’s life, and enjoy a hearty laugh.

Take care,

Don Betz

Lessons in Leadership – Fall 2013

Good Sunday to each of you.

Welcome to Lessons in Leadership.

I hope that this message finds you in excellent spirits.  This is an extended holiday weekend here in the USA originally intended to honor America’s workers with the day off.

Each week during this semester I will offer some comments in this space.  It may be a reflection on the week’s guest presentation, or perhaps a set of issues before us which merits our group consideration.  There will be connections to leadership and, hopefully, to you.

On Tuesday we will officially launch the “L in L” series of speakers and interactions among  PLC and LOT members, their mentors and those from the UCO community and outside the university who choose to join us.  However, the focus of the program is you and your continuing development as emerging leaders.  The approach will be both theoretical and practical and intended to cultivate your understanding and exercise of the art of leadership.  Dr. Jarrett Jobe will guide and mentor the process.

Over the coming weeks a series of exceptional people from our region have generously consented to spend time with you.  They are energized by the prospect of connecting with you who they see as successors to follow them into positions of responsibility and decision-making. They know that the future of a community, state, country or globe is directly influenced and contoured by the quality of its leaders. One of our goals is to intentionally grow the leadership pool in Oklahoma and beyond

At UCO, we speak often about creating a culture of learning, leading and serving.  For us, these are not idle words intended for a brochure or a commentary.  We are intentional in our continuing efforts to prepare our students for success as life-long learners, and as leaders who serve and servers who lead.

We also believe that imagination, creativity and leadership are indispensable ingredients for personal and community success.  That success pivots on a common vision and a degree of collaboration beyond what is usually expected.

These attributes are essential to successfully navigate the breadth and depth of change that is imbedded in the fabric of our lives and our society. Change is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our contemporary world.  And there is scant indication that the breakneck pace of change is about to subside any time soon.  This is our milieu, our environment, our world.  As citizens, community members and leaders, we prepare to meet the challenges and nurture of opportunities that change offers every day.

And we learn to do this together.  One of the clear lessons of this time and leading into the future is the power of “we”.  Genuine collaboration opens options and possibilities undiscovered by the lone seeker.  The scope and possibilities are amplified when we find common ground and step up, together.  Perhaps this collective sense of connection and persistence was demonstrated for some of you last week when America remembered across the last half century to the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” address at the Lincoln Memorial.  It was a defining moment in the evolution of our country as it continues to pursue the founders’ ideals and vision.  As has been often said, we are seeking a more perfect union.  And we do so together.

I am eager to meet you and to learn more about your aspirations as a valued member of the community, from local to global. As Dr. King so prophetically reminded us, “we are all tied in a single garment of destiny.”

And we have clear obligations toward one another.  One is to develop our capacities to learn, lead and serve.  Another is to take care of each other.  One of the ways leaders do so is by responding to the call of service.

Jeffrey Sachs in his latest volume, To Move the World, encourages us not to fear change, but rather to embrace it.  “Let’s embrace and harness the winds of change, together, for all the right reasons”.  In this book about President John Kennedy and the process he and others created to achieve a partial ban on nuclear weapons testing during some of the dark days of the Cold War.  Sachs said the stakes were high in 1963 due to the awesome power of these weapons.

“At such a hinge of history, individual can make a vast difference”, Sachs writes.  “Now it is out turn.  We know that the tasks are large, but so are the past acts of leadership that inspire us and encourage us on our way.”

Leaders, he counsels, are not gripped by forces beyond their control.  ‘We too can be as big as we want.  We too can stand and move the world”.

And so, we believe, each of you will in your unique manner and time.

We are here to help cultivate the best “you”, so that together we might create the best “we” to lead and serve now and into the future.

Enjoy these final holidays of the summer season.

Don Betz