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The Challenge and Meaning of Leadership

July 14, 2014

Last week, I attended the graduation ceremony at the Florida Sheriffs Institute of the Florida Sheriffs Commander Academy, Class 2. The sheriffs in our state created this leadership program to prepare the next generation of leaders for the roles they will play as members of their command staff. Commanders representing 26 of the 67 counties participated in the class.

As you can imagine, the ceremony was impressive. Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County gave the keynote address outlining the traits of true leader and a number of awards and recognitions were given. In total, nine sheriffs were able to attend the event and watched along with the officers’ families and friends as FSA Secretary, Sheriff Sadie Darnell of Alachua County presented the commanders with their diplomas.

As I presented each student with the class challenge coin, it occurred to me that they understood the challenge of leadership better than most. In fact, while in the class they had accepted a leadership challenge presented by the first class to support the kids at the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch (FSYR).

This point was underscored earlier in the program by a check that Class President, Captain Charlie Thorpe of Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office presented to Sheriff Benjamin Stewart of Madison County, the Chair of the FSYR, in the amount of $8,230. The funds presented were derived from a combination of personal donations and matching funds from their agencies. The donation was made to give deserving boys and girls a safe and secure home and an opportunity to succeed in life (see photo).

While much has been written about the traits of great leaders, what they all seem to have in common is that they somehow instinctively understand they must use their power to influence others to make the world a better place. The commanders in this class, like Class One, “get it” and because they do, their agencies, communities and our state will be a better place. 

In closing, I want to congratulate each member of the class and wish them much success in their career. In addition, I want to thank the staff at FSA and all the instructors who participated in the program. Finally, I want to thank the sheriffs in our state for establishing and supporting the program.

Thank you and until next time, stay safe!