Friday, November 4, 2005

The Profound Role of Leadership: by Gary Hall

All of us have been positively influenced by leaders throughout our lives.

Whether they were a Little League coach, youth minister, an inspirational teacher or a wise grandparent, our perceptions and character are formed by these personal relationships.

We also have been affected by leadership. Think of how American's collectively feel when it is perceived no one is at the helm of the ship in Washington, D.C..

The challenge of leadership is to successfully bring a critical number of people to a unified conclusion resulting in support for action.

Research has shown that the critical number of people needed to cause community change is surprisingly a minimum of thirty percent. When Americans fought and won independence from the British, interestingly enough, it was not by means of unanimous support. In fact, the population was bitterly divided into three equal camps. There were the Tory's, those loyal to the crown, the Revolutionaries fighting for independence, and those who were neutral in the entire matter. Eventually, they all were benefactors of those few leaders who did not wait to gain the support of the majority but garnered enough support to accomplish what was right for the new nation.

In August of this year, a survey was conducted of registered voters in Owensboro/Daviess County revealing that sixty-five percent of respondents favored an ordinance restricting smoking inside many public buildings and businesses. This survey had a confidence level of 95% + 5%. Results were published in the Messenger-Inquirer on October 5.

One question surrounding the jointly written ordinance is, "Does passive smoke harm those who are exposed? Too many studies have repeatedly shown that second-hand smoke does have adverse effects on adults and especially children.

The issue of whether or not individual rights of smokers would be infringed is also important to consider. Does a smoker have the right to exhale smoke in an enclosed space shared also by nonsmokers and children? Many years ago, cities saw the need to pass ordinances to restrict snuff/tobacco chewers from spitting on city sidewalks. Why? Because it was smelly, unsightly with ambeer staining the soles of pedestrian's shoes.

Although not as visible, passive-smoke is inhaled clinging to the lungs of non-smokers.

Smoking restrictions do not infringe on the rights of smokers, it actually provides specific guidelines where one can smoke while also protecting the rights of the non-smoking population.

Dr. Howard Gardner, professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education defines leadership this way: "A leader is an individual (or, a set of individuals) who significantly affects the thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors of a significant number of individuals." Having verifiable strong community support, the next step is for our city/county officials to carry out their responsibility as duly elected leaders. With the authority their offices hold, they must move to support a comprehensive ordinance protecting as many of our members of our community as possible.

Gary Hall, 2415 North Stratford Drive, Owensboro

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