Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Goodbye to good leaders

Friday is a turning point for The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command. We knew Majors Roy and Kathy Williams were far too talented to stay in the same position for long, and sadly they are leaving Friday for a promotion in Jackson, Mississippi. Major Roy will report to the Divisional Commander as General Secretary and Major Kathy will be in charge of Women's Ministries for the ALM division, which includes Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. The Salvation Army moves its officers around every four to seven years. I was really hoping for more time with the Williams. I want to tell you what their leadership has meant to me and, I suspect, my coworkers.

Major Roy ushered in so many positive changes, it’s hard to know where to start. We are in our brand new beautiful offices and will save tens of thousands of dollars every year because we don’t have to rent a Christmas warehouse. Major Roy took the initiative to get that done. When I started here three years ago, every time I worked on the website that the National Salvation Army required us to use my computer would crash. I thought it was just my lack of programming skills – but then Major Roy hired Lindsay as e-marketing director. She decided that the website was so dicey that we’d use a blog until a new website could be built from scratch. It’s under construction now, but the blog has been so popular, we'll continue to use it for stories.

When Major hired Lindsay, there wasn’t a single e-marketing director at another Area Command in the Southern Territory. Now, in addition to our blog, we are fully into all social media and mobile media too. These are all concrete milestones that occurred under Major Roy’s leadership, but an invisible aspect of his leadership is equally important to me. Whenever I’ve made mistakes, Major Roy has corrected me without ever making me feel stupid or guilty or unmotivated, an area where I've found many leaders lacking. I'm sure I’m not the only staff person who has experienced it. I don’t know how he does it, but he makes me want to do better, not retreat and take fewer risks. I think that's the point where leadership becomes an art rather than a skill.

Major Kathy is equally talented. I watched her turn our Christmas Assistance Program from chaos to order in a year. During Christmas 2009, recipients of Christmas assistance had to wait in line for up to four hours, sometimes in bad weather, to register for food and gifts. Now recipients make appointments for registration as early as August and are in and out of the Christmas Center in an hour or less. Distribution of gifts from the Angel Tree Program ran like a well-oiled machine last year. 

Another long-lasting change Major Kathy initiated was furnishing our new offices. She scoured discount stores for furniture and decorations to personalize the blank canvas of our new building. The result is a warm and welcoming but still businesslike environment, not an easy feat to pull off. As a couple, I can’t think of two other married people I’ve known who complement each other so well. During employee events, Major Roy is loud, zany, hilarious and is usually the center of attention. Mrs. Williams grounds the couple with grace, good humor and homemade baked goods, usually involving chocolate. In the category of other good things, Major Kathy leads a devotional every Thursday that I've come to enjoy. That's about the only time I can say that I've heard either Major talk about their faith. They live their faith 24/7. They don't need to say much about it. 

It’s hard to say goodbye to two people who have taught me so much about leadership, faith and life. I’m not embarrassed to say that I love them and will miss them dearly. Best wishes in your new post, Majors. Come back and visit us as much as you can!


1 comment:

  1. Well said and I agree with every word. I know I will miss them too especially when I walk into the office on Monday and feel that void. Unfortunately, our loss is Jackson's gain!