Finding Leaders and Diamonds in the Rough

Finding Leaders and Diamonds in the Rough

by Jimmy Adams
Adams Transfer & Storage Co.
Chairman, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce

A key leadership initiative sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber is Leadership Hall County. The mission of Leadership Hall County is to provide the foundation of a lifelong commitment to leadership by creating awareness of key issues that affect the Gainesville-Hall County area and to challenge emerging and existing community leaders to bring about positive change in the community. The new class recently kicked off the first of 10 monthly programs with a leadership retreat and team building program at Montera Farms. The class of 36 individuals represents a good cross section of our community that will be exposed to issues and topics ranging from the judicial system to Lake Lanier tourism and economic development. Leadership Hall County is a strong, positive reminder that we must continually identify and develop new leaders who are committed to our community for the long term.

Identifying Leaders: Diamonds in the Rough
I’m particularly proud of the Chamber’s ongoing Leadership programs because they help us identify our community’s ‘diamonds in the rough.’ Leadership Hall County identifies prospective or current leaders and gives them the opportunity to shine. Yet, along with the glory and recognition of leadership roles comes tremendous responsibility. From company CEOs to small business entrepreneurs to community volunteers, leaders hold a responsibility to stay on top of current issues facing our community and provide a voice. Being a leader means being accountable and staying involved in the community – not relying on fellow associates, governments or others to determine what is important for you, your family or your community. True leaders do not sit idle with an unheard voice. True leaders take part in the process, listen and learn the issues, speak with a clear voice and participate by taking action on issues of importance.

Fowler’s Un-Scratch-able Itch!
Friend, former Chamber Chairman, a founder and current chairman of VISION 2030 Rob Fowler has been a strong proponent of community leadership. During his tenure as Chamber chairman, Fowler stated the following:

“Highly effective leaders have what I call an ‘un-scratch-able itch.’ They tend to have a ‘constructive spirit of discontent.’ Some people would call this criticism, but there is a big difference in being constructively discontent and being critical. If somebody says, “There’s got to be a better way to do this,” I see there’s leadership potential by asking, “Have you thought about what that better way might be?” If the response is ‘no,’ the individual is being critical, not constructive. But if the response is ‘yes,’ the individual is challenged by a constructive spirit of discontent.”

Fowler remains committed and focused on community leadership and is currently serving as Chairman of the ongoing VISION 2030 project.

Vision and Leadership
While sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, VISION 2030 is a community project and the brain child of local leaders and visionaries. In the last year, the VISION 2030 process engaged hundreds of citizens in visioning the community that they would like to live, work and play in for the next 25 years. The importance of visioning was embraced by our citizens, and the end result will be long-term goals and plans for Gainesville-Hall County that the vast majority of citizens will recognize as their own and support wholeheartedly.

Only through strong leadership were we able to devise the VISION initiative and bring our community together to seek and accomplish our goals of economic success and quality of life. In addition to the VISION 2030 initiative, in the last year, the Chamber has further developed leadership programs by initiating Youth Leadership Hall (YLH) and researching a continuing education leadership program for Leadership Hall County graduates.

Youth Leadership involves dozens of area students, juniors and seniors from Gainesville-Hall County schools. It was my privilege to speak to the 2006-07 Youth Leadership Hall’s Spring and Fall Session participants as they kicked off their first of three monthly programs last month. How promising the YLH participants are – and a good example of how future leaders are groomed. As I spoke to the group of students and their parents, I saw many ‘leader parents’ and past participants of the Leadership Hall program. I spoke to them about leadership being a responsibility – as leaders they are responsible and accountable. It is now the responsibility of these students to not only become a leader, but also find and develop other leaders.

Leaders Today and Tomorrow
I consider it an honor to follow many of our community leaders that have served as Chamber Chairman over the last 99 years – most recently, John Vardeman, Rob Fowler, Doug Carter, Dick Valentine and Benny Bagwell. Our distinguished list of past Chamber Chairmen, along with other Gainesville-Hall County leaders, are the true gems of our community whose leadership skills, works and actions continue to shine on.