It was an unusual day, to say the least.

I spent a fair amount of last Wednesday morning at the police station and in court. And I spent part of the afternoon in the sheriff’s office.

I was also in the city and county administrative offices and, for good measure, the county animal shelter – which is right next door to the sheriff’s office, although I don’t think they’re related.

I hope you’ve already assumed I wasn’t taken to any of these places by the authorities, in handcuffs and against my will. In fact, it was just another day in my Leadership Putnam class.

Wednesday was Government Day, and it gave us an opportunity to meet some of  the people who run our community, and the ones who keep it safe. We got an up-close-and-personal look at an interrogation room and at ambulance and fire engine equipment and supplies. Among other things, we learned how underfunded and understaffed many crucial services are. That’s not an issue exclusive to our community, of course. It’s pretty universal right now.

I was already acquainted with some of the people and places we visited. I’d been to the County Health Department for my COVID vaccination and booster shot. And I was in the police station a few years ago when I needed a background check done in order to work with high school students on some writing projects. But this was the first time I was in any of these places specifically to learn about leadership.

A talk by one of the County Commissioners made me think of a book a friend gave me years ago. The title was, You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader. The book described how each of us can be a leader in both our personal and our professional lives, and how we can make a positive difference in our world. I was getting the same message as the commissioner spoke about honor, character, and integrity. About the importance of being a leader that others can look up to. And about the great things that can get done when you have great leaders.

I admit that I immediately thought of various state, federal, and world leaders – current and recent – in terms of those attributes, or lack thereof. But I quickly realized I was looking in the wrong direction.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” which means I’ve got my work cut out for me. We all do, if we want to have – and to be – leaders who bring about positive changes, whether on the global stage or in our little corner of the world.

That gives me a lot to think about in between now and our next Leadership class.

I hope you will ask yourself the same question I’m asking myself right now, and it’s not, “Do I see myself as a leader?” Or, “Do I want to be a leader?”

The real question for us all is, “What kind of leader do I want to be?”

December 6, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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