Leaders come from all walks of life. Some are thrust into leadership roles because of their family lineage — which sometimes doesn’t bode well for themselves or their followers. Some assume the role because of their skill or expertise, which hopefully provides a platform for developing into a leader. Some become leaders because they’ve been elected. Others are selected because they show some sparks of talent or commitment that convey their ability to lead.
In late November 2014, the leaders of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives — all elected by co-op members — met in Nashville for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting to review our collective progress, re-energize and plan for the future. Each of these leaders has a responsibility to his or her local community to hone the necessary skills to provide the critical leadership for which he or she has been selected.
One of the speakers at this important meeting is an elected leader himself — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker. The senator offered his assessment of the current Congress and the challenges facing our nation and state. Corker, whose prior service was as the mayor of Chattanooga, remarked that he believes there is “no greater service than someone serving their community on the local level.”
While all parts of the annual meeting were important, some of the topics have the potential to dramatically impact the cost of your electricity. Experts John Novak and John Myers from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Tennessee Valley Authority, respectively, explained in detail the potential impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan on our state’s electric grid. Moderator Greg Williams, CEO of Appalachian Electric Cooperative, guided the session. A major challenge will be allowing nuclear plants that are already under construction such as TVA’s Watts Bar Unit 2 to count toward achieving Tennessee’s carbon reduction targets.
You don’t have to have gray hair to be a leader. You don’t even have to be old enough to vote. Each year, Tennessee cooperatives send more than 150 high school students to Washington, D.C. These future community leaders are among the best and brightest in our state.
One student is selected annually to represent our state on a national leadership council. Tennessee’s representative for this year, Denisha Patrick of Collierville, addressed the annual meeting audience, eloquently highlighting her experiences on the Washington Youth Tour last summer as a representative of Chickasaw Electric Cooperative.
From the youngest to the oldest, whether a speaker or cooperative member, all of these leaders at our annual meeting have one thing in common: a desire to make life better in their local communities.
It’s a matter of commitment, ability and desire. That’s what makes for a good leader.