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2016-02-11

Lead, follow or get out of the way

Mikie Baker

Though I’ve attempted to keep this fact under lock and key, it appears the truth is out – I am a serial Leadership Class Stalker. And yes, I’ve got some explaining to do. I’m on my sixth step and since I must make amends, here goes.
As with any addiction, it starts out slowly and sneaks up on you. Being an innocent, last year I signed up to be in a Leadership Class in a neighboring town. The goal was to get to know the up and coming “leaders” there, experience an in-depth look at the community and, ultimately, to develop business leads so I could sell underwriting.
We met one day a month and, following a strict agenda, toured the town. There was City Day, Tourism Day, Hospital Day – nine different facets of the community were covered. I even got to go to jail and see Phil Collins sworn in as an official Texan. See how easily you can get hooked?
I had so much fun and made so many great friends that I decided to sign up for another Leadership Class in a different town this year. I begged and pleaded for my company to pay for yet another one. I even promised our president, “If you let me go to this one, I promise I’ll never lead anything again.” She looked at me kind of funny. I was worried she saw that Leadership Class Stalker look in my glazed eyes.
Interestingly, even though there’s a standard core curriculum for any leadership program, each town’s own personality enters into the mix – which teaches you more about the community than it does about leadership. Towns all have different personalities. They may have the same city and county government model, but the dreams they have for their communities vary greatly.
One wants to be a high-end family-friendly suburb; another a destination spot full of culture and ethnic heritage. See, aren’t you getting addicted, too?
So, here’s what got me to thinking about all this. As I said, last year on Government Day they loaded us all on a bus and drove us to our beautiful Texas State Capitol, which is so spectacular that even I had to act right. I met my state senator and representative, a lobbyist and experienced government in action. My 18 classmates and I paraded around the Capitol in our matching leadership shirts looking like a bunch of 3 year olds on the grand tour. Frankly, it was pretty fun.
This week is Government Day for the second leadership class I’m stalking. Unlike last year, we are required to wear our Sunday best so we look like official leaders. It may also have something to do with the fact that our shirts are screaming lime green so when all 25 of us get lined up together, the only way you can stand to look at us is after you put on your sunglasses.
There’s something to be said for taking an all-day field trip with a bunch of adults. Personally, I’m packing paper and straws as the makings for a great spit ball fight. Luckily, this year the Legislature isn’t in session, so maybe we’ll just go meet the Governor, shoot spitballs and call it a day.
One day soon, my leadership stalking will come to an end. As soon as I graduate, I promise to leave for the closest Leadership Addiction Center and spend some time getting my priorities straight – to lead, follow or just get out of the way.