Jones County: Will you choose to lead?

Jones County District 5 - Jerome Wyatt“Take pride in your work. Have self-respect. Give encouragement and recognition. Be an example to the community.”

These words are not my own, but were carefully written and chosen by the employees of District 5 as the principles and ethics they want to live and work by as they serve the citizens of Jones County each day.

There is a larger principle hidden within these simple words – the true meaning of leadership.

You see, I believe that true leadership is about inspiring, mentoring and serving alongside those you lead. Each day I have the opportunity to serve the citizens of Jones County with people who continually inspire me to be the leader they deserve, and each day I strive to be the leader that you deserve.

But, I believe that to be a truly effective leader, I must inspire others to serve alongside me. I must teach others how to lead, be a positive example and mentor those who are willing to stand with me.

Today – I challenge you to join me. Let’s get started.

Step 1. Seek A Need

In order to lead, teach or mentor, you must first identify a need that has yet to be met, or a problem without a solution.

Many years ago I identified a need within our community – the challenges and negative influences our young people face. From teenage mothers to misled young men, the young people in our community face problems that affect their lives for decades to come and are in desperate need of positive influences, mentorship and real help.

Look around you – at what point in your daily life, or the lives of those around you, could you provide a helping hand, meet a need or solve a problem. Sometimes, even the smallest needs can overwhelm without the help of others. Be that helper.

Step 2. Identify your Resources

I believe that people with resources have a responsibility to affect change. Perhaps your resources lie within your abilities, your talents and your skills. Perhaps yours lie within relationships with others and an ability to connect a problem with a solution. Perhaps your resources lie within your ideas and your unique ability to see a solution hidden deep within a problem.

In the 1980s, I was a part of the early initiative on strategic planning to combat teen pregnancy. This great need was apparent right here at home in Jones County. The Mississippi Department of Health tells us that, “Compared with older mothers, teenage mothers are more likely to be high school dropouts, limiting future earnings and the financial support they provide their child, and they are more likely to rely on public assistance.”

Our teen mothers are not the only group of young people that deserve our attention. The young men in our community are struggling to fight negative influences and to find positive mentors to show them how to make good choices and to choose a new direction for their lives.

Early on I found that my ability to mentor could be used to serve these young men. Every week I work with the Laurel Middle School boys to help them develop good behavior, gentleman-like qualities and academic success.

Whatever your resources – you have a responsibility to use them to better the lives of others and to affect change. How will you use your resources?

Step 3. Take Action

Once you have found a need and identified your available resources, the next step is to simply take action and to begin working toward a solution.

Perhaps the problem you’ve chosen requires the help of others. Do not wait for someone else to take the lead, instead seek out those whose resources “fill in the gaps” and begin working together toward a solution.

Even when you’re going it alone, you can still affect change by taking small, consistent steps toward a solution. Even small actions can have a great impact.

For instance – my youth mentorship program cannot reach every middle school boy in Mississippi. But, by working with specific, troubled youth, I can see a great, lasting impact in the lives of those who need the most help. Through this program I am seeing lives changed simply by providing a positive example and giving young people the attention they desperately need.

Similarly, the very real problem of teen pregnancy in Jones County has been addressed by many and we have seen great success in the years since I first joined the fight. Since 1980 the teen pregnancy rate in Mississippi has dropped by nearly 50% and is continuing to drop further each year. By using my resources of connection, strategic planning and leadership and by taking action alongside others who believe as I do – we have been able to affect real change, right here at home.

Whether you’re forming a team to tackle a large problem, or chipping away at a smaller problem alone, your actions today will compound into a significant impact over time. By simply taking action, you will inspire those around you to do the same.

Step 4. Inspire Others to Lead

If we are to make great, lasting changes in Jones County we must work together to make the greatest impact possible. The best way to inspire others to lead is to be an example of leadership and to provide the tools necessary to lead.

Every morning I meet with the employees of District 5. We talk about the day’s work and problems in need of solutions. Hanging on the wall in our meeting space are the powerful words they chose to guide their work.

“Take pride in your work. Have self-respect. Give encouragement and recognition. Be an example to the community.”

These words are more than principles and values, they are a visible example of effective leadership at work. These men and women have been given the tools they need to lead, to affect change and to work hard for the community we all love.

When you see these hard-working individuals solving problems and helping to move Jones County forward, I hope you will be inspired to lead, and to help others lead alongside you.

Remember – seek a need, use your resources and inspire others – and together we will see great change come about, right here at home.

How will you lead? Add a comment below telling us:

  1. What problem can you help to solve? What is the need?
  2. How can you use your unique resources?
  3. What is your first step? How will you take action?
  4. Who could you inspire to lead and work alongside you?

Serving With Purpose

Wyatt-1When we take on any challenge, the first thing we must identify is the purpose behind the work we’re about to undertake. What is the end result we hope to achieve? How will our efforts affect the lives of others and contribute to the greater good? Then, what must be done to accomplish this goal?

Many years ago I made a decision that I wanted to better the lives of others. On the surface, this is a simple goal. However, over the years I have learned that it is this purpose-driven view that has pushed me to continue to work hard each day for the people who live and work alongside me, right here in Jones County.

As I look toward the future I realize there is yet much to be done. For this campaign I have chosen the slogan “Serving with Purpose” to serve as a constant reminder of that simple decision made so long ago. However, in order to serve the people of District 5 to the best of my ability, I have found that there are some principles that must be in place before great change can be achieved. These principles help to guide my efforts each day.

The 3 Principles of Effective Service

In my many years in public office I have found 3 steadfast principles that determine the success or failure of any endeavor.

First, there must be a specific, measurable goal in place. In order to motivate others and to do the work necessary to achieve change our goal must be clear to all of those working towards its success.

Each morning I meet with the county employees at the District 5 office and we discuss the specific goals of the day. From timely trash and debris pick up, to right-of-way, curb, gutter, sidewalk, ditch and alley maintenance to pothole and road repair – each goal must be specifically identified so that we can all ensure that the desired outcome is achieved. Larger goals such as community center maintenance and new developments are segmented into smaller, actionable goals in order to see larger projects completed effectively and without delay.

By creating specific, measurable goals, we have found that we are able to serve the people of Jones County effectively and with excellence.

Secondly, hard work is a cornerstone of effective service. Without hard work, even the smallest of goals may become impossible. By focusing each day on the work necessary to achieve success, we have been able to accomplish much.

Every week I mentor challenged middle school boys and work with them to develop good character, gentleman-like qualities and academic success. They learn that through hard work and intense focus on a specific goal, they can accomplish so much. My experience with this program tells me that through hard work even the most difficult management cases can be put on the right course.

In another instance, I saw the results of hard work first-hand with the development of the District 5 Resource Center. This resource center helps the people of District 5 address various issues in their lives and to find ways to achieve their own goals.

Finally, any worthy cause needs a strong, dedicated leader. Without effective leadership, a project will veer off-course and a team will lack the motivation necessary to achieve success.

In every facet of my life I strive to be not only an effective leader, but an inspiring one. My goal is not only to lead, but to inspire others to lead so that, together, we can accomplish much more than we can alone.

Whether I am serving in the leadership at the St. Paul United Methodist Church or within any number of local organizations it is always my goal to inspire those who will come after me to become effective leaders so that we can all see the continued results of our efforts for many years to come.

In the past I have served as the president of the Jones County Board of Supervisors, I fought for the people of Laurel-Jones County as President of the NAACP, was a board member of the Directors of Jones County Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect, served as chairman for the United Way, served on the board of the Red Cross and was past president of the Family Health Center. These experiences and more have taught me the true value and responsibility of leadership and have helped me to develop methods of motivating and teaching others to become effective leaders.

Under my leadership, the county barn at 126 Central Avenue has been upgraded to fit in with Downtown Laurel improvements and a new mosquito abatement program has been put into place for rural areas in the district.

It is my firm believe that I can continue to “Serve with Purpose” by employing these three principles of identifying specific, measurable goals, working hard toward their success and serving as an effective leader. I hope to continue to inspire and motivate the people of Jones County District 5 to stand alongside me as we continue to address the challenges of the future.

If you would like to join me in this endeavor, please take a moment to Ask A Question. I am grateful for your continued support and prayers.