Leadership class experiences UCO; Learns Henry’s ‘eight principles of leadership’

By: Brittany McDaniel, news editor
Tuesday, Oct. 5, RSC leadership students jumped on a van to UCO. The group of students gathered to hear Governor Brad Henry speak about leadership. UCO President Dr. Roger Webb began the seminar with an enthusiastic speech about the importance of good leadership. Webb stressed the value of teamwork. “The rest of your lives you will be working in teams,” Webb said. He explained the importance of workforce cohesion. Should the team fail to come together, and instead act out as individuals, the team is inevitably doomed to fail. The question then becomes how to make this happen.

“We have to learn to forge relationships. Relationships build trust,” Webb explained. Webb then introduced Henry as a champion for education.

Henry began, “I don’t know if I have any great skill when it comes to leadership. It just sort of happens.” Henry went on to say, “If there is any common denominator it is a great desire to help people. A desire to make this world a better place.”

Henry ascribed to the “power of one” in each individual, giving examples of famous people in recent history. Henry said, “I’m a big believer in the power of one. Each individual can make a difference. Everyone has the ability to make a difference. Everyone is a leader. The question is do you have the motivation.”

Henry elaborated on the powers within, “Think about Google. These two college friends started Google…[and it] has changed the way we gather information.”
Henry offered attendees what he considered “Brad’s eight principles of leadership.”

  1. You have to believe in yourself.
  2. Be willing to take a risk.
  3. Turn liabilities into assets.
  4. Surround yourself with good people.
  5. Never believe that you are better than anyone else.
  6. Do the right thing.
  7. Be willing to realize and admit when you’re wrong.
  8. Always keep in mind results are important.

You need confidence and respect for yourself. Henry used an example from his first year running for governor. Henry said, “Everybody said your crazy, you can’t win. It would have been very easy for me to say your right, but I believed I could [win the race].”

Henry said taking risks is an important element in leadership. “I don’t know any great leader who has not suffered failures. I was willing to lose that race. It was going to kill me. You learn more from your setbacks and failures than your successes,” Henry said.

As vital as firm belief in your talents is to success, surrounding yourself with valuable team members is just as important. Henry said, “You have to know and understand you can’t do it alone. Just because you’re a good leader doesn’t mean you can [succeed] without your team.”

In his closing remarks, Henry drove home the point that personal connections make for memorable life moments. Henry asked the audience, “Name the last five Oscar winners for best actor or best actress. Name the last five governors. Some of the most famous people are not memorable. They did important things but they didn’t touch you personally. Now name five teachers. Name someone who did something nice for you. The point is it’s the little things that make a difference. Don’t forget that.”

Henry spoke of a trip to the southern African coast where a small act of charity became a life lesson. Henry and his wife went on a mission trip to hand out mesquito nets to help combat malaria stricken areas. “The area was so remote,” Henry said. The riverbed the aid truck got stuck at was rocky, and the terrain would not allow for the truck to get through. Calls were made, and the village that was just over two miles away came running toward the foreigners. “A group of children came running They had distended bellies from hunger, and little clothing. The children started clapping and singing. I turned to my wife and said, ‘I wish we could share this with the world.’ The children were singing despite their hardships…they were the happiest people I ever met,” Henry recalled.

Henry ended with the importance of service in the community. Henry proclaimed to the crowd, “Service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy…be a leader, make a difference. That’s what it’s all about.”

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