Life lessons from an ‘old goat’

Published 8:46 pm Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sometimes it takes an old goat to remind people of what they have.

That’s what Troy University’s Senior Vice Chancellor of Advancement and External Relations John Schmidt told those gathered at the Pike County Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professional’s luncheon Wednesday.

“I’m speaking to a group of leaders, but sometimes there are things we forget about or need a reminder of,” Schmidt said. “This old goat will try to remind you.”

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Schmidt’s speech, “Leadership Basics Leaders Often Forget or Never Learn,” spanned topics of self-leadership, toxic leadership and organizational success.

Schmidt told those gathered the best way to be leaders is to follow a “moral compass” — with integrity at the top, then faith, courage and commitment as the other compass points.

“Are you a person of honor? Is your word your bond? Do you do the right things for the right reason?” Schmidt challenged his audience.

“To me, these are the fundamental moral points.”

But, Schmidt also pointed out ways that leadership can go wrong.

“There are toxic leaders. These are bullies and have grinch-like behavior,” Schmidt said. “I ask you to avoid becoming mean-spirited leaders.”

Schmidt said that can be done by building up people when they’re doing good and recognizing the services of even those who do the small jobs.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Schmidt said.

The final point Schmidt made compared being a strong leader to a rope.

“A rope has different twines that are all intertwined — these could represent gender, race, a number of things,” Schmidt said. “As a leader, you have to keep that rope intertwined.”

This was the second luncheon held by the Pike County Young Professionals, and Schmidt was among the top of guests the group wanted to hear from.

“His life experience has made him a good example of what leaders should aspire to be like,” said Jenniffer Barner, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. “He is a good role model for all of us.”

And, Barner said the decision to bring Schmidt to speak was one she was glad the group made.

“I thought that Dr. Schmidt’s message today was on target to what we are trying to offer the members of PCYP,” Barner said. “It is difficult to find someone that can put a new twist on things that you know or have heard many times, but Dr. Schmidt was interesting, entertaining and certainly reminded all of us as leaders and potential leaders in our organizations how we should conduct ourselves.”

Barner said the chamber will continue to recruit captivating speakers and hold other events that provide networking opportunities for its members.

“Part of the mission of the chamber is to support the community, and by sponsoring this program, we feel that we are helping to support the next leaders of Pike County,” Barner said.