The South Carolina legislature begins deliberations on the state budget this week. For those of you who don’t know, I am currently working on a Ph.D. in Social Work at the University of South Carolina which puts me in the capital city and the state has undergone 2 billion dollars, yes, with “B”, worth of cuts, and are looking at more. The conversations about budget cuts have been swirling for months, state agency heads have been slumping around knowing that everyone everywhere is looking at significant cuts in funding. I want to say today to anyone who will listen please, be thoughtful when cutting budgets. This is even relevant in your own agency’s budgets. I’ve heard many say that these lean times have made them be more diligent about their spending. That is the lesson to be learned. I closed out last week with the devil being in the details. This is true for budgets as well as projects. If we go about slashing funds just because we need to cut money and not be thoughtful about how certain cuts mean different things. It is terrible to say, but cutting one set of services is vastly meaningful in some ways than cutting others. The state of research on economic growth and development is pointing toward early childhood investments. If children are not receiving the nurturing and support at home from birth, if they are in unsafe and unhealthy environments then how can we expect an underfunded school system to make up those deficits? Investing in early childhood, across the whole spectrum of services, will be a lifelong investment into the economic base. Cutting these services is like shooting yourself in the foot right now and then carving out the liver, kidney, heart, and lungs over time. What you have is a hollow shell of a corpse. I beg of you, those of you in the legislature who are making these decisions consider what those decisions are doing for children today, tomorrow, five years, ten years, and even 20 years from now. Make decisions today that will set the state up for a solid infrastructure leading to positive economic growth, and not a future of constant and sustained support for those in “need”.
This week is about leadership and leadership style. Many of you know that I am in school pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Work, what you don’t know is that this semester has been spent studying leaders and leadership styles and how style related to organizational change and implementation of innovative projects/ideas. It has taken me the entire semester to be sold on the concept of studying leadership and why leadership style really matters. I’m sold, it does. Have you ever asked yourself what your leadership style is? I have begun noticing how I behave in different settings in order to “study”, shall I say, my leadership style. What I’m seeing is interesting and seems to reflected in the academic literature on leadership as well. What seems to be effective in one situation often doesn’t work in another. What is the message then for the day…all is relative? No, what this has shown me is that if I know enough about leadership styles and approaches then I have the resources and ability to be more effective in any given situation. If I am using the same approach to all situations I am bound to be ineffective in some or most of them. Think today about your own leadership style and watch and listen to yourself in varying situations. Are you using the same approach to every situation? How’s that working for you? I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same things but expecting different results. Let’s not be insane in our leadership, especially in times where every decision feels, and often is, critical to the optimal and successful functioning of an agency or project…so, what’s your style? Check out Mind Tools if you want some more formal assessments of your leadership style http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_84.htm