PLAINVIEW – Leaders possess many traits, but according to Judge Rick Story, three key components of leadership set the best apart from all others. Story, who serves as U.S. District Court Judge in Atlanta, highlighted the importance of leadership qualities at the first High Plains Leadership Summit at Wayland Baptist University.
Story named the three standout traits of a good leader as having the power of discernment, the ability to connect with people, and the ability to see things as they could be not only as they are.
“All of these traits can be traced to the same source: the heart,” Story said. “Discernment comes from trusting your heart, and relationships come from opening your heart up to others. Vision comes from leading with your heart and not just with your brain.”
Story said discernment is important as leaders are often making decisions and they must be able to weigh the consequences beforehand in order to make a wise choice. As a judge, Story said he often meets people at the point of facing the consequences of bad decisions, and he shared three stories of individuals who could trace their downfall to one poor decision along life’s road.
“I realize that many decisions leaders make involve complex issues, but many simply come down to what is right and what is wrong,” Story said. “Our creator has gifted each of us with the gift of discernment. We may not listen to it from time to time, but it is there if we pay attention.”
Story also highlighted the connection factor for leaders as important, noting that leaders must be able to empathize with others and serve not out of power but out of the pleasure of helping fellow man. Sharing stories of his youth in tiny Harlem, Ga., and later as a student at LaGrange College, a small Methodist school in Georgia, Story showed how the small environment such as that at LaGrange and at Wayland is beneficial to students.
“You are receiving an educational benefit for which you didn’t bargain,” he said.
Using a story from his childhood, Story shared how having vision – being able to see how things could be – and going after that vision sets true leaders apart. Leaders don’t consider the obstacles or the difficulty in achieving their vision, he added, they just set out to accomplish it.
The summit began with a luncheon featuring remarks on leadership by Wayland President Dr. Paul Armes, the presentation of the first Legacy Leadership Award to longtime Wayland trustee and legal counsel Gene Owen and an address by Story. The event continued with afternoon breakout sessions, with students choosing from four offerings at each time slot.
Community and university leaders served as speakers for the sessions. Panel discussions were held with specific issues facing men and women in leadership, with several participating. The women’s panel featured Nell Hardage, President of American State Bank; Cynthia Trevino, Administrative Assistant to the Executive Vice President at Wayland; Paula Lusk, Homemaker and Community Volunteer; and Muff London, Vice President of Marketing & Development for The Greenways. Betty Donaldson, vice president at Wayland for advancement, served as moderator. The men’s session, moderated by Wayland vice president for academic and graduate services Dr. Bobby Hall, featured Danny Andrews, editor of the Plainview Daily Herald; Danny Wrenn, head coach of the Plainview High Lady Bulldogs; and Jared Melton, an attorney with Owen, Voss, Owen and Melton in Plainview.
Other sessions included “Leadership Accountability: Lessons Learned from King David,” led by First Baptist Church pastor Dr. Travis Hart; “Leading with a Servant’s Heart: Habitat for Humanity,” led by Chris Llewellen and Rev. Drew Travis; “Avoiding the Pitfalls of Leadership,” led by Dr. Yvonne LaMar, assistant professor of education at Wayland; “Leadership in My Generation,” led by Wayland vice president for enrollment management Dr. Claude Lusk; and “Leading with Vision,” led by WBU development director Martha Cross.