Fostering Good Leadership Skills

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - February 14, 2007
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Leadership begins with self-leadership, and self-leadership is just another way of saying take responsibility, be accountable and exercise self-discipline - those values by which we lead ourselves.

If we can’t lead ourselves, how can we expect to lead anyone else?

Equally important is servant leadership. Hawaii’s own Dr. Kent Keith, educator and author of Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments, traces the roots of servant leadership from the ancient Chinese sage Lao-Tzu to the Roman philosopher Cicero, to the founder of Christianity, Jesus, who taught that he “did not come to be served, but to serve.” The servant leader is the least-visible leader, the nurturing leader, the leader who accomplishes the most by assuring that others get the credit.

Fortunately, Hawaii is blessed with at least two programs specifically designed to foster both self and servant leadership. The Pacific Century Fellows (PCF) is for established leaders in the community and the other, Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders (CTL), is for junior aspiring leaders. Both are very competitive to qualify, and neither is widely known.

My wife Susan and I were recently invited to participate in the Turtle Bay weekend kickoff event for this year’s class of Pacific Century Fellows, a program founded nine years ago by Mayor Mufi Hannemann, and patterned upon his own experience as a White House fellow. PCF brings together 30 up-and-coming young community leaders (ages 28-44) who have already demonstrated notable leadership in their respective fields of business, professional, government, military, political and civic - a total cross section of our community.

Through a nine-month program of working seminars led by the likes of Hannemann and Keith, field trips and social events, PCF provides the opportunity for its fellows to network with and learn from even more senior leaders, and to gain a broader perspective and deeper insight into the interrelationships of our multifaceted community and - most importantly -their leadership role within it. At the same time, they are building lifelong bonds of friendship and counsel. They will stay in touch and even have reunions.

The Center for Tomorrow’s Leadership is sponsored by Youth for Christ (YFC) Hawaii. For more than 50 years YFC Hawaii has reached out to our young people, “helping them develop their full potentials physically, mentally, socially and spiritually through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Committed to reach “Every Teen by Every Means,” YFC also sponsors high school “Campus Life” clubs, youth camps, leadership training conferences and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

Quite by coincidence (if I believed in coincidence), in the same general time frame we had the privilege of being interviewed by this year’s CTL class in the board room of the Pacific Rim Bank. That week they also spent time with a variety of leaders covering nearly all sectors of our community; among them were Eddie Flores Jr., founder of L&L Barbecue Restaurants, Kelvin Taketa, executive director of the Hawaii Community Foundation, Peter Carlisle, Honolulu city prosecutor, Dee Jay Mailer, president/CEO Kamehameha Schools, and Paul Putzulu, deputy chief, Honolulu Police Department, just to name a few.

Each year, through a highly competitive process, 18 Oahu high schoolers are selected for CTL from both public and private schools (some are home schooled) to meet monthly for much of the year, meeting and interviewing local business, political, military, government, professional and civic leaders, and taking field trips for personal exposure across that same broad spectrum.

During their interview, these 18 “cream-of-the-crop” students - the boys dressed in spiffy coats and ties and the girls in smart business attire - asked intelligent, sophisticated questions, revealing maturity and insight beyond their high school grade level. We are fortunate that many of Hawaii’s future leaders will likely emerge from CTL’s class of ‘07.

Thanks to these two programs, YFC’s Center for Tomorrow’s Leadership and the Pacific Century Fellows, in terms of self and servant leadership, for both near and long term, Hawaii has reason to be very hopeful.

If you know men and women, or high schoolers who might qualify for either of these programs, encourage them to apply at (808 235-3733) or (808 946-1300)

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