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What Leadership Looks Like

It was a most serendipitous appointment. I had not really planned on attending the Prairie View A&M Community Council Meeting being conducted by the university's president Dr Ruth Simmons. In a word, it was "AMAZING!"

I had only heard of Prairie View A&M's new boss. I new that she came from a prestigious Ivy League school, Brown, to take over the job at Prairie View. Of course for those who don't know, that's like going from coaching the New England Patriots to coaching your son's high school football team. Of course many would ask why a person would do such a thing but a few minutes sitting in on a meeting with her and you immediately know why.

Although I went up after the meeting to express my gratitude for her display of leadership and depth of wisdom, I am only speculating here about why she is at Prairie View. Sadly and noticeably, there was no line waiting to talk to Dr Simmons. There should have been. Young people need to know the value of a jewel such as Dr Simmons is to any people. There would have been a long line for Beyonce I'm sure. This is the problem.

To me, Dr Simmons represents the best in authentic leadership. I surmise that in any capacity she finds herself, her objective is always the same, fix the processes that make up the organization and develop the people. After she realized in the meeting that there needed to be further discussions on a topic that time did not permit them to address, she immediately stated, "we will schedule another session to address the specific topic" that had been raised by one of the students.

Shortly thereafter, a young idealistic, former student with an agenda of his own stood up and addressed the body and boldly stated that everything that they talked about was useless if they didn't address the original problem of "slavery."


In the coolest response I may have ever observed from a leader on the "hot-seat," Dr Simmons first affirmed the student for his boldness and then politely chided him that he was not necessarily "right." She continued by implicitly addressing some of his statements such as the one stating that all of the other work is useless if the issue of "slavery" is not addressed. She calmly stated that problems take people who are willing to work and that involves seeing the viewpoint of others and being willing to roll up your sleeves and work with them, build consensus and get something accomplished.

I am summarizing and it was much more eloquent than that. I will shortly publish the video for the whole world to see and hear what leadership looks like. It's not "black" and it's not "white." It's just GOOD!

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