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The importance of leadership

The importance of leadership can never be understated.

Every organization, company and team that works well does so because someone is at the helm of the proverbial ship, making sure that everything is in order and the sailing stays smooth.

Metaphors aside, leadership works because it takes the most crucial part of any project — decision making — and puts it in the hands of an individual or small group that has been chosen to do so. A leader doesn’t have complete control over something, but they have the last word, using the hard work and suggestions of followers to create actual, tangible change.

Groups without leaders aren’t necessarily lost, but their best work will always get done with someone reining in the ideas and actions of a diverse set of thinkers and doers.

Southern Union State Community College has shown this recently by finally appointing their first president in a decade. Todd Shackett, an award-winning and highly regarded businessman who has worked in Opelika for years will be taking over as head of the school that has campuses in Wadley, Opelika and Valley.

Speaking to him directly, it is clear that Shackett wants to lead not with an iron fist, but with an open ear, taking the expert opinions and ideas of the already-established school staff in order to best serve the students. He has made it clear that, while he definitely has his own plans to grow the school in terms of enrollment and offerings, he realizes that the people who make up his team are more proficient and more informed in areas that he is not. Only by relying on them to do their jobs well can the school succeed.

Being a good leader does not mean being a taskmaster or an overseer. Being a good leader means combining the strengths of a team to carry out the vision that the entire team holds. Luckily for our area, we seem to have a lot of leaders who understand that.