Story and photos by BEN GRAFTON
At the Jan. 4 Walton Area Chamber of Commerce (WACC) breakfast meeting in the Lake House at Hammock Bay, a good turnout of members started the new year with a program featuring presentations about leadership and its close companion, mentorship.
Terry Schrader, owner of Terry’s Air Conditioning, a meeting sponsor, told the members, “Walton County is special. It sets itself apart from Okaloosa and Destin and Bay County. It is more family oriented and it draws a better class of visitors. …Realtor friends we deal with are saying they are running out of inventory. So I think we’ve got a real bright future coming up.”
Beth Jones of Hammock Bay also welcomed the group and reported that the development enjoyed a, “wonderful year in 2012,” when more than 100 homes were sold. She commented that people living south of the bay have moved here to take advantage of the quieter lifestyle. She expressed hope that 2013 would be an even better year for the development.
Matthew Avery, vice president of engineering for CHELCO addressed the crowd on the subject of leadership. He said, “The more I learn about it, the more I see how blessed we are to have the Walton Area Chamber and the things that they do for us. And then, our membership; that’s really what it’s all about. There wouldn’t be a chamber if it wasn’t for all of you who support the chamber.”
Avery said, “I attend the United Methodist Church and one of the things we say there is, ‘No perfect people allowed.’ … And that’s true in leadership. We are not perfect and we’re all going to make mistakes. …Sometimes the more responsibility you have, the greater impact that mistakes can have. So how we respond to those mistakes is a sign of the quality of leader that you are.”
Avery then presented and expanded on leadership principles that he believes are essential. These include: 1) It is up to the leader to find the potential and value in each of his people and make them the best that they can be. 2) To communicate better, be consistent, do not speak over the head of people and always be courteous. 3) Great leaders empower others to do their jobs. 4)
Create a growth environment in which the leader expects growth from the people around him. 5) Good leaders surround themselves with people from whom they can learn.
Debby McKinney, an experienced entrepreneur and owner/manager in several businesses, is a mentor for Patty Reihl, a supervisor in the Walton County Tax Collector’s office. These two, who have been working together for about four months, gave the audience an overview of the WACC’s Walton Build Program.
McKinney said “I was asked to be a mentor for the Build Program. …I have mentored lots of people but never in a structured program. As far as the mentoring, it’s bringing together people and matching them with somebody in business. Leadership Walton does its best to match people in the program and in our case we have really worked well together.”
Reihl said, “The Leadership Walton Mentoring Program came to the [Tax Collector’s] office in 2008. Miss Rhonda [Skipper] was our first participant in the program. She thought it would be a great fit for our office and included it in our leadership development. Four of our supervisors and an assistant supervisor have graduated from the program. …The program teaches trust as leaders, time management, team building and listening skills just to name a few subjects. When you set your goals you want to be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and have a time line.”
Reihl continued, ” Miss Debby [McKinney] and I have met several times. …At the end of each meeting we make our notes about what we are going to be doing until we meet again. …She asked me to do a personal vision and mission statement. She always leaves the door open for me – if I have any questions – I can call her, I can e-mail her, I can text her, and it doesn’t take her but seconds to get back to me. Miss Debby has a lot to offer me and it’s up to me to make the most of it.”
McKinney followed up saying, “As far as the Walton Build Program, here are the things that are a mentor: it’s about development, it’s about listening, it’s about encouraging, it’s teaching the mentee to be a mentor. So, it’s not just being a mentor to Patty, it’s developing her so that she can be a mentor to others. It’s to inspire, to give feedback, to provide an open door, and so as a mentor, Patty may think she’s getting a lot out of it, but I get a lot more than she does. You can’t give without getting.”