When I met with Mayor Ronnie this week, the murders in Orlando had happened the day before, and we were both sobered by it. We talked about all the possibilities, reasonable and otherwise, that one might consider as a response to that situation in Orlando; everything from open carry, to stricter gun laws, to jihad, to ISIS, to concealed carry, to the encroachment of Sharia law upon our nation, as well the temptation of anyone in any position to surrender to fear, which is the whole point of jihad. For every mayor, whether their city is large or small, their number one concern is public safety, and these are not easy times for anyone who has been given the sacred charge of protecting.
We talked about the fact that the most important thing that people can do is learn to live confidently in a state of situational awareness. It simply means that even in a place as safe as Athens, day or night, the skill, the gut, the mindset has to be that wherever you are, you continually pay attention to your surroundings, and if you see something, say something. You do not take unnecessary risks, and you do all you can to be citizen who “keeps watch, and keeps safe.”
We talked about leadership, as well as a concept set forth in a recent Rotarian magazine entitled, “Best In A Supporting Role.” That concept calls for the coining of a new term, and that is “followership.” The idea is that we spend so much time learning about how to be a good leader, and we should. But there is an equal, and perhaps even greater, level of skill involved in being a good follower. It is not being like a sheep, having no opinion, being a “yes man,” a slave, or a sycophant. It is developing the understanding that you still lead by following if you do it right. You are the one who ultimately makes the desired outcome possible, and really, in so many ways, leadership and followership “flow and go,” and are interchangeable.
To quote the article’s author, Steve Almond, “The hallmarks of the effective follower are precisely this: an ability to check your ego at the door, to remain positive and self-motivated even if you’re not setting the agenda.” True leadership demands a checking of one’s ego, and so does true followership.
There was something in the article that especially spoke to Mayor Ronnie, and it was this: “Good followers have to be committed to the mission of the group, and they have to be competent in their given role…Good followers have to be able to work independently and maintain their ethical standards.”
“We need, now more than ever, to be committed to the ‘mission’ that is Athens. We are in an election season, and we have great opportunities to get in new leaders in new positions.” He went on to reiterate his mantra, which is, “It ain’t-a me, it’s a we.”
We then prayed intensely for our town and its mission, for our country and its leaders, for our families and our friends. Then, it was time once again for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner