Gov. urges leadership skills for Boys State delegates

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 1, 2006

Gov. Haley Barbour spoke to the delegates of the 64th annualAmerican Legion Boys State about leadership in Rea Auditorium atCopiah-Lincoln Community College Tuesday.

Later, the students learned about the duties andresponsibilities of the state’s chief financial office from StateTreasurer Tate Reeves, who also challenged students to persevere intheir career pursuits.

Barbour said there are four key elements to any good leader.

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Good leaders must work hard, tell the truth, spread the creditand accept all the blame. All those qualities are trust issues, hesaid.

“You cannot expect anyone to follow you unless they can trustyou to tell them the truth as you know it,” Barbour said. “If youdon’t have a team that can trust you to lead them, then you betterhave a good team and trust them.”

A good leader must not only be willing to delegateresponsibility, but also the authority and power to see that thedelegated task can be accomplished, he said.

“In real life if you delegate responsibility, you have todelegate the authority to make the decisions to successfullyachieve that,” Barbour said.

The governor was frank in pointing out that spreading credit fora job well done is “not charity or good manners, but ensures youcan look forward to that same help again.”

Barbour said many of New Orleans’ problems following HurricaneKatrina were caused by a loss of trust between the public and thestate’s leaders because of the infighting over who was to blame forthe lackluster response.

“Nobody wanted to take the blame. No one wanted to takeresponsibility,” he said. “Real leaders take the blame.”

When questioned about his 10-year plan and rumors of hispossible candidacy for the presidency, Barbour said he would not becomfortable pursuing that role after the devastation of HurricaneKatrina and the continuing recovery efforts.

“I might have thought about not running for re-election beforethe hurricane, and I was even encouraged to run for president, butI don’t feel it’s appropriate or even moral for me to leave in themiddle of this,” Barbour said.

He said delegates will see his name listed on the next ballotfor governor.

Reeves, who has family ties to Bogue Chitto, told the delegatesof his rapid and unexpected rise in politics. The treasurer was 28years old and in a race with six other candidates for the post in2003.

“When I first qualified there were many who felt I didn’t have achance,” he said.

Reeves said he ignored the “nay-sayers” and concentrated on hiscampaign.

“I assure you that if you have a plan and a goal and awillingness to work hard, you can accomplish anything you put yourmind to,” he said.

He stressed the importance of a college education and notrelying on government programs and scholarships to pay for it. Hesaid those funding sources are limited and may not beavailable.

Boys State runs through Friday. It is a program designed toeducate high school students about state government and politics,and to encourage participation in both.

The delegates travel to the state Capitol today for aninauguration ceremony for officers elected Tuesday. Theinauguration will be hosted by Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck. Attorney GeneralJim Hood will meet with delegates this afternoon in Jackson andRep. Jaime Franks, D-Mooreville, will talk to the students on theirreturn to the Co-Lin campus.