All lectures in the North Georgia Community Connections series are free and open to the public. They will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Hampton Park library, 5345 Settingdown Road on the following schedule:
• Oct. 27: “Preparing Teachers for 21st Century Students”
• Nov. 3: “Childhood Obesity”
What makes a good leader? How do crisis situations affect the measure of a leader?
These were the two main questions asked by presenters Wednesday during the North Georgia Community Connections lecture series sponsored by North Georgia College & State University.
Wendy Walker, assistant professor of management, and Ruben Boling, director of the Center for the Future of North Georgia, continued the series with “Leadership in Uncertain Times.”
Walker told the audience at Hampton Park Library that her focus is more on everyday, smaller scale leaders such as those in day-to-day business operations, as opposed to the U.S. president or CEOs of major companies.
Walker asked audience members what they thought of when thinking of traits that define leadership.
“Research tells us that there are three basic definitions of a leader and they all basically say good leadership is about getting people to follow one common goal or vision,” she said.
“It’s about getting them to voluntarily follow one path of action or group goal, without having to make them do something.”
Walker said research has found several traits that typically make good leaders. Among them: hard work, determination and integrity, as well as being ethically focused, emotionally stable and orderly.
She went on to say that good leaders can be made even if they don’t naturally have all of the traits associated with leadership.
Boling said there are two types of leaders: positional and situational.
He said positional leaders are those who have leadership assigned to them, such as company managers, while situational leaders are those who “emerge during happenings or events, and rise to the occasion to become a leader.”
Boling said times of crisis can actually be good in shaping leadership.
“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors,” he said. “We should never waste a good crisis. Rather, we should learn from it.
These are times to do things that we’ve never had to do before.”
He said true leaders exhibit several behaviors during a crisis. Most importantly, they “hold tight to their integrity and their values and beliefs.”
Among other traits good leaders display during crisis: transparency, good communication with all stakeholders, honesty, compassion, self-awareness, energy and creativity.
“During the hard times we’re experiencing now, I think the leaders who are not just getting by day to day, but those who are saying, ‘what are we going to do when we come out of this,’ are the ones who’s organizations are going to succeed over the long term,” Boling said.
Audience members like Jerry Frank seemed interested in learning more about leadership.
“It’s a very important subject and has been really forever,” said Frank, who added he has attended all but one of the lectures in the series.
“I really enjoy them. The subjects are all different. They keep my mind open.”