Contact: Sasha Steinberg
STARKVILLE, Miss. —“Leadership is not about bossing people around. To be effective, the leader has to work harder than anybody else,” said former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour during a Monday [Feb. 13] presentation at Mississippi State.
Part of the university’s Lamar Conerly Governance Lecture Series, Barbour’s lecture on leadership was organized by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and Pre-Law Society.
“Growth and success in elections is about teamwork. Nobody ever makes it by themselves,” Barbour told his audience in the Colvard Student Union Bill R. Foster Ballroom. “Politics is a team sport, and if you’re going to be a leader, you must have a strong team that you can trust. You’ve got to teach your team, and you have to act in ways that are trustworthy.”
A Yazoo City native, Barbour had been Mississippi’s governor for only 20 months when he assumed responsibility for guiding his home state’s recovery and rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina, the costliest and third-deadliest natural disaster in American history.
Barbour said telling the truth is key to effective leadership.
“The people you rely on the most strongly are going to be the first people that know if you’re not telling the truth,” said Barbour, founding partner of BGR Group, a global lobbying firm. “If there’s bad news, get it out as fast as you can.”
Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former White House political affairs director, said good leaders also know how to delegate authority and responsibility. Bad decisions are going to happen, he said, but good leaders are those who acknowledge and act on their mistakes, while empowering others to do the same.
“Good leaders understand if you expect somebody to be responsible for something, you have to give them the authority to get done what it takes to achieve the responsibility,” said the 1973 Juris Doctor graduate of the University of Mississippi.
“You’ve got to accept responsibility when things go wrong, even if it’s not your fault. If you are the leader, you’ve got to step up to the plate,” he added.
Along with accepting responsibility when things go wrong, Barbour said good leaders should give credit where credit is due.
“Your team will be better if they get some reinforcement, whether it’s public or within the team, so spread the credit around when things go right,” he emphasized.
In his closing remarks, Barbour empowered MSU students to give back and make a difference in their communities.
“Our state needs young people who can apply the facts of the day and try to get the right solutions,” Barbour said. “I hope you leave here with the commitment, ‘I’m going to be a leader. I’m going to make a difference.’ Our state is small enough that you can.”
The lecture series is made possible by major support from Conerly, a 1971 MSU accounting/pre-law graduate and longtime partner in the Destin, Florida, law firm of Conerly, Bowman and Dykes LLP. He is both a former national MSU Alumni Association president and College of Business Alumni Fellow.
The Department of Political Science and Public Administration is part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Learn more about the College of Arts and Sciences at www.cas.msstate.edu; its PSPA department at www.pspa.msstate.edu.
Quintara Miller, PSPA business coordinator, also may be contacted at 662-325-2711 or QMiller@pspa.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.