What if Guilford County’s top leadership vanished?

As promised, I expanded on my dark, ‘what if’, thinking following last Wednesday’s “One Guilford” leadership symposium for my bi-weekly N&R column, which appeared in print yesterday.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only person in the audience who has such a twisted imagination.  I spent some time on Lake Townsend last Saturday with Councilwoman Sandy Carmany and some other folks.  Sandy confessed to having similar imaginings during the meeting. 

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Last Wednesday I traveled to High Point University along with around 225 other Guilford Countians for the News & Record-sponsored “leadership symposium�. 

After taking my seat in the beautiful auditorium of HPU’s Hayworth Fine Arts Building I couldn’t help but to marvel at such an extraordinary assemblage of our county’s leadership.

However, while listening to the morning’s program I just couldn’t shake one overriding, albeit macabre, thought:

What if some terrorist had learned of the meeting and decided to “think globally, but act locally� and found a way to bring down the building’s roof onto all of our very important heads?

Gone would be the mayors, city councils and managers of our two largest cities.  The presidents and lieutenants of our largest foundations would have expired in the blast.  Also among the rubble would be pulled most members of our school board including our superintendent and his assistants.  The majority of our County Commissioners along with our highest-ranking county management would be kaput.  Many of our largest corporations would be unexpectedly starting the process of hiring new leadership.  Our high sheriff as well as the chiefs of police from several of our county’s municipalities would have died.

How would we – or rather you, because I’d be among the casualties – carry on if this county had to start all over with new leaders, new attitudes, new ideas and with new approaches?  What baggage would we throw overboard to keep our county floating and moving forward?

One thing’s for sure: We’d suddenly have the answer to one of the key questions posed during the symposium: From where are our future leaders emerging?  Who would step up if 95% of our leadership suddenly bought the farm and all the livestock?

I couldn’t quite kill off that last 5% of our current leadership because, as I scanned the room, I couldn’t find Commissioners Skip Alston and Billy Yow.  So, we’d still have that going for us.

My admittedly disturbed thinking might not be a bad exercise for Guilford’s current leadership to enjoin.  During the meeting everyone agreed we must formulate a shared vision for what we want our county to look like in the future.  I believe everyone should imagine a future without being in the picture because some day you won’t be.  There’s no better way to crystallize one’s future vision than to consider how we want to be remembered for creating it.

That auditorium was packed with folks with their own ideas on what they want for Guilford County’s future, and most everyone attended for the right reasons.
Hopefully, the better heads among us understand that we have to get a handle of all the things that have traditionally divided Guilford into fiefdoms, both real and imagined.  Whether they be geographic, economic, age, racial or cultural, our divisions can either strengthen us or tear us apart as we work toward developing a common vision.

Since, thankfully, my horrific scenario didn’t play out, today we still find ourselves guided by people we elected or were otherwise elevated to positions of leadership.  Good people, mostly, to whom I was honored to be among.

But what if that building had fallen?  Would everyone in that room have been remembered for working together to ensure the prosperity of Guilford County? 

If not, then they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

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  1. Posted May 25, 2007 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    What if Guilford County’s top leadership vanished and nobody noticed — or cared enough to comment on?

  2. Posted May 26, 2007 at 5:56 am | Permalink