Troy conference focuses on servant leaders

Published 6:03 pm Monday, February 4, 2013

The gauntlet was thrown down for the 350 participants at the 12th Annual Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History Month at Troy University on Saturday.

Personal development coach and motivational speaker Sheri Riley brought the 12th Leadership Conference to a close with a challenge to the participants to become servant leaders.

“Service is what is missing in today’s leaders,” Riley said. “We have those who are defined as leaders by title rather than character. We have those who are defined as leaders by their success rather than by their significance. We have leaders who are defined by how many followers they have rather than how many they serve. We need servant leaders.”

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Riley said the purpose of a leader is to serve but there are far too many “leaders” who are not willing to carry the torch of service.

“Service is the part of leadership that is left out,” she said. “Service is the price that we pay to live in this universe. Be committed to service. Greatness is rooted in service leadership.”

Riley said to be a servant leader one must first submit to God and then commit to personal awareness.

“You must have a clear vision,” she said. “You must have the ability to listen and discern. You must be decisive but flexible. You must have a servant’s heart and always fail forward.”

Riley said that failures that are wrapped in heartache and pain are going to come in life.

“Failure is inevitable,” she said. “ But, while failure is inevitable, recovery is optional.

We must prepare and equip ourselves to be able to ascend above our circumstances and more forward. We must fail forward.”

Riley cautioned the Conference participants that, as servant leaders, they must have persistence in patience and realize that they may never see what manifests from their service.

Riley closed with a Biblical reference, 1 Peter 5:6.

“‘Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time.’ And, in all things give thanks,” she said.

The African American Leadership Conference opened Friday night with an address by keynote speaker Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, who is a commentator for media outlets including National Public Radio, the New York Times, CNN and Fox News Channel.

Hill told the participants that the past must not be forgotten but it can’t be allowed to be a stumbling block to the future.

He said that in celebrating today’s freedoms, it is important to keep track of the “unfreedoms” that exists – homelessness, mass school dropouts, and jails filling up.

“The world is not finished yet,” Hill said.

“We must listen carefully, remember truthfully, act bravely and hope relentlessly if we are to honor our ancestors and live up to the their legacy by becoming the leaders we are capable of.”

Wanda Moultry, chair of the 2013 Leadership Conference said that, once again, the Conference was a great success.

“We were inspired and we were challenge and we are committed to go into our communities as servant leaders,” she said.

Moulty expressed appreciation to the City of Troy and Troy University for their continued support of the annual leadership conference, to her co-chair Shelia Jackson, to all of those who worked so hard to make the conference a success and to all the participants for their commitment to community service.