Our View: The search for leaders

August 26, 2011 1:54:00 PM



We''re a community led by interim leaders -- from the Columbus and Starkville school districts to the Columbus Police Department and Mississippi University for Women. 


Leadership is a tricky thing. Some would say, it''s the main thing. Take Apple and Steve Jobs, to cite one example in the news. 


It''s a fine balance of business and people skills, the professional know-how of the field and a slew of intangibles, not the least of which is vision. 


And finding the right leader? 


Even trickier. 


Columbus and Starkville schools have employed the services of the Mississippi School Boards Association, paying $9,500, plus expenses, for experts to seek out the right person. 


It''s a small price to pay for a leader responsible for hundreds of employees, thousands of students and tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars. 


MSBA is headed in the right direction, seeking community and district input before even drawing up a job application. 


The state College Board is doing the same. 


Thursday, the board and commissioner of higher education hosted sessions on campus, listening to input from campus faculty and staff, community members and business and civic leaders. 


Despite pleadings by locals to give Interim President Allegra Brigham the full-time job -- and Board President Hank Bounds'' assertion that "Allegra is doing a fantastic job" -- the College Board is hewing to its commitment to conduct a broad search. 


Not to beat a dead horse, but we wish the CVB could have mustered the same resolve. Instead, it chucked its stated commitment to cast a wide net in search of a director and settled instead for the person in the interim spot. That unwise move has undermined the credibility of that organization''s board and the director it chose. 


The Columbus City Council continues to advertise for applicants for chief of police. 


Whether or not they will seek community input is yet to be seen. But searching far and wide is a positive sign. 


The wider the pool of candidates, the better the chance of hiring the best person for the job. That paired with taking the pulse of the community, can make all the difference. 


We, as citizens and taxpayers, deserve a say in leadership positions so vital to the health of our society. 


We encourage those charged with choosing the leaders to proceed with care, deliberation and openness.