For Immediate Release
Date: Jun 18th, 2012
Contact: Dr. Terry Norris
Leadership or Politics?
A lot has taken place in the weeks since our Annual Meeting. Everything I say will certainly be history by the time this article is published. When all the dust is settled after our legislative year, I will take time to fill you in on the details that have transpired. One thing that I can say now that will not be history is that Mr. Porter and our lobbyists have put in a huge amount of time to move our Non-Covered Services bill forward. During this three week span, Mr. Porter has averaged calling me, texting me or e-mailing me 2-3 times a day for input. Thanks, Mike, for your relentless pursuit in moving this bill forward. The political realm is new to me and as a dentist it just does not move promptly in an organized fashion. Dentists are problem solvers and get in and diagnose and treat an abcess in 60 minutes or chart out an orthodontic treatment plan for a parent in no time. The wheels in Frankfort are foreign to our way of doing business. Needless to say, that is why I am not a politician.
As I prepared for our Annual Meeting, I encountered a colleague and asked in passing if he were going to the meeting. He said that he had other things going. I encourage him to go ahead and mark off time for the meeting in 2013. His next statement threw me though I did not take offense at it. He said he understood that I had to go since I was involved in the politics of the KDA. My simple reply was that I was involved in the leadership of the association and not the politics.
I looked up the definition of leadership and it simply said: the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this. What are the qualities that define leadership? I believe that knowledge of the issues and being able to motivate and delegate are all important. Most of all, I feel that a leader needs to have done the work that he or she is now leading others to do. As I looked up the word politics, I was startled by the application: activities aimed at improving someone’s status or increasing power within an organization. Whoa.
I may be a little naïve, but the one thing I love about the KDA is the camaraderie we have and the willingness of our staff to do what it takes to make things happen. I can honestly say I have not seen politics played in the KDA. The federal and state campaign races we see every four years are making most of us more cynical about politics and the trend is less being done for the betterment of the public because of the rancor within that polarization.
I have been inspired by our leaders to do the best that I can. As I told the House of Delegates on the last Sunday of the meeting, both of my parents, in surviving the Great Depression, and because of alcoholic fathers and either a divorce or a mother dying, had to quit school at age 13 and 16 for each to raise and provide for three younger siblings. Even though my parents were not educated, they encouraged and made available to my brother and me every opportunity to better ourselves. “I can’t do it” was never in our vocabulary. That and their work ethic have impacted my life forever. They were great role models and leaders in our family and in our church. They led by example and never played the political game. Politics may have a coercive action to propel people into the game, but then you are stuck with puppets.
A good leader inspires people to be greater than he or she could be. Dr. Mike Johnson got me started in the workings of the KDA by simply asking if I would serve on a council. He said he would help me in any way he could and he has. How many times do we place people and then leave them hanging? A good leader has patience to work with individuals and let that person grow. Never once has Mike or anyone tried to sway me. This is truly leadership and not politics.
With leadership comes a dissent or differing view from others. Over the last two years, I have really learned through apologetic studies that we need not be afraid of people who disagree with us. In fact, I would much rather have someone disagree with me and deal with it, than be placated by a person who disagrees or has unanswered questions. Contrary to the postmodern thought, words do have meaning. At some point we can find common ground, but we do have to choose our words wisely. We all have people who get under our skin, but only if we let them. Bantering with an illogical close-minded person will get you or me nowhere. How appropriate was the thought of the day I received by e-mail prior to writing this. It said, “If you can’t find anything good about a person then refer to them as a slinky. Remember, a slinky is good for nothing, but puts a smile on your face when you push it down the stairs.”
Let’s continue to lead and leave the politics to others,
Terry L. Norris, DMD