Four prominent figures in business and community involvement offered views on leadership during Drury University's second annual Leadership Summit, held on Nov. 14 at the Monett City Park Casino.
Instructor Joel Thomas, who teaches a course on leadership for Drury, opened up the session to the public. Students in the class introduced the speakers: Genny Maroc, Cox Monett Hospital president; Jack Goodman, presiding judge for the 39th Judicial Circuit; Tony Wormington, president of Jack Henry and Associates; and Ed Mareth; entrepreneur and co-founder of 3D Corporate Solutions, based in Monett.
Each of the speakers offered comments on leadership, followed by questions from the audience.
"One of my mentors said, 'It's not enough to be right. You will go further if you do it in the right way,'" Maroc said. "It doesn't take any light away from my candle to be able to light yours."
In her line of work, Maroc stresses accountability. Permitting something reflects buying into the practice.
Maroc earned her master's degree late in her career after working full-time. Taking courses after she had become an administrator helped her to make sure she had the skills to do her work. Maroc stressed self-awareness, taking care of one's self and putting time into things one really cares about.
Jack Goodman: Elected last year as the local presiding circuit judge, Goodman traced his career path from his small town roots in Pierce City to the University of Missouri in Columbia and a series of decisions for dealing with situations along the way. His choice to seek a position as state representative came after describing a flaw in the law to the standing legislator, who essentially challenged Goodman to be the one who did something about it.
Goodman offered three points on leadership:
* "Care about something. Have a passion and a need to decide to do something."
* "You must decide to act."
* "You must decide how to act and what to do."
Although defeat in the primary for Seventh District Congressman stung, Goodman was glad looking back that he was not thrust into the Washington, D.C. scene.
"I realized God has such a great plan sometimes," Goodman said. "I work in a job now that I truly love, where I meet my desire to help people on a personal and direct way. People don't come [before the court] because they planned to end up there. The work we do is very important to the lives of those who enter. If we do the job right, they won't be cycling back through."
Tony Wormington: Though wearing many professional hats over the years, Wormington had the unlikely distinction of having worked for the same company since high school. Wormington worked at Jack Henry and Associates while in high school, starting when the company was only six people. Responding to Jack Henry's personal appeal, Wormington chose to not leave for college the fall after graduating, but went to work full-time for the company.
Wormington said he learned a lot from "the back-office employees at banks." His travels automating small community banks for four years led to his promotion to manager of installation services, leading research and development, becoming general manager of technology services, chief operating officer and ultimately company president.
"Growing up in the job has been a blessing to me," Wormington said. "My original goal was to do something creative. I enjoy the idea of taking a concept from the mind to having a machine do it.
Wormington said while working as an installer, he liked to test the commitment of new workers. He would take them on the road and see how they responded when he loaded up so much work that an employee had to work all night to finish.
"If they would do that, I knew they were keepers," Wormington said.
"A lot of great managers are not good leaders," he continued. "Managers work through getting things done. Leadership is one who sets an example and communicates a strategy for how to get something done. Having the passion and drive to create a greater good is what leadership is all about. The best thing a leader/manager can do is get out of the way and let them [the employees] go at it. Leadership is about having followers."
Ed Mareth: Having worked his way through manager positions with Cargill and Purina then heading Tyson Foods' specialty marketing division, Mareth co-founded pet food ingredient company 3D Specialty Solutions. Mareth freely admitted his passion for "puddle jumpers," the key to standing ahead of the crowd.
"A circle doesn't have a leader," Mareth said. "Leadership is saying this doesn't work. It all starts with a person coming up with a common vision. Others will want to follow."
Mareth proposed that leadership evolves from trust, servitude and passion. "Leadership is most effective when an individual can convey a purpose that others are willing to subscribe to, and that they are willing to sacrifice for today, so they will all benefit tomorrow."
"Your integrity, your character should be your badge. You can lose them in a second," Mareth warned. "Be careful with trust. Leadership is very dangerous. With the right amount of passion and influence, you can be Hitler. Wanting to be the best starts with yourself. The world is changing faster. It's only going to get funner."
In offering strategies for success, Maroc said she works daily to make her hospital the best place to work.
Goodman said the challenge facing young people is finding status in a world where secrets are hard to keep. For himself, dealing with troubled people, Goodman stays grounded by going home nightly and praying for the people he puts in prison. "I go home, love my family and hope like crazy I do well with my boys."
The speakers generally agreed that leadership can be learned and is not just an innate skill. Goodman observed many leaders are "naturally deliberate."
"I get up and decide each day what personality and attitude I'm going to have," said Mareth. "I have never had a bad day. I can have a challenging day and figure it out."