Good leaders are one of us who strive for good of all

Duane Dailey

Leadership is illusive, hard to find and keep. That lack created a rough patch for Mizzou. Leadership requires endless giving with high returns for all. That’s no place for a self-centered, complacent person.

Somehow we’ve had people who sought their own reward and own glory.

That may be changing. We have new people in place that show potential skills we need. It’ll take time.

It’s amazing how in a job interviews people say all the right things and sound ready for the task. But then…

Leadership takes hard work based on sound thinking. It may take time to appear. Glibness can fool us.

This week, we had the first semester meeting of general faculty at MU campus. I’ve been here long enough to know that academic meetings can be dull.

This gave the first chance for two new leaders to show their stuff. Bill Wiebold now heads the faculty council. Alexander Cartwright is new chancellor. As happens, both have strong Iowa backgrounds and education.

They had learning in grassroots commonsense.

Wiebold, Iowa farm boy, started out to be an engineer. A calculus class convinced him to become an agronomist, he said in his introduction.

His work ethic and leadership have been seen in MU Extension for years. State specialists must learn to attract and hold an audience. Learners don’t have to be there. He’s done well.

Cartwright has a more cosmopolitan upbringing. Born in the Caribbean, his parents brought him to Iowa. He learned well there.

He aims to make MU a more pleasant productive place to work. A big survey taken before he came showed great frustration in faculty and staff. Some 60 percent of the faculty had considered leaving. He showed the top 10 reasons listed. Those included low pay, overwork, lack of recognition, and on and on.

Staff was equally frustrated. Their work is taken for granted.

Here’s the difference I see first. Both leaders are good listeners. We have leaders who are smooth talkers, who can’t hear and respond. The worst tell whatever the audience thinks they want to hear.

People trained in sciences tend, I believe, to be good problem solvers. They learn to spend time defining the problem, then considering alternatives in answers. Smooth talkers can provide instant answers that pop into their minds. Almost always, those sound good.

Wiebold and Cartwright know that a University is not top-down authoritarian leadership. Solutions are developed jointly, faculty and leaders. It’s called shared governance. Awkward and slow, but, strong plans come forth when alternatives are considered.

Cartwright seeks wisdom and advice of multiple committees. Deadlines are being set. He wants three to five workable solutions offered from each by year’s end.

Also, he wants people stories. Success stories are long-proven Extension teaching methods. That’s how I was trained and how I worked.

The chancellor wants Missourians to hear those stories. Before coming here, he picked up a bad view of MU from national news. When here, he found real, hard-working, skilled people. Achievements abound. He wants those stories told.

I was fresh off a weeklong workshop teaching 39 newbie photographers how to move from picture makers to visual story tellers. I know words and photos can be powerful educators. Unfortunately, the method is almost lost in today’s media.

Millions of photos are shown on social media now. But, they’re selfies or groups, not action photos. They don’t tell stories. There’s a difference, a huge differences.

Chancellor Cartwright will attend the farmer meeting on the Farm Bill Summit, Oct. 18, at MU Bradford Farm. Those who attend can speak to him. Also, they get the ears of U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and Rep. Vicky Hartzler.

It’s time for farmers to speak up. Ask leaders to tell what’s possible in Congress. Ask: “What are you doing?” We still have a democracy.

We don’t need non-hearing authoritarians.

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