First, congratulations to this year's class of 40 Leaders Under Forty! It is quite an honor, and I know each of you is very deserving of this prestigious recognition.
“The speed of the leader, the speed of the team” is a simple slogan that communicates how leaders set the tempo and tone for their organizations. If the leadership is highly disciplined, generally, so is the team. If the leader is an optimist and loves to laugh, so does the organization.
Tazewell County is the same, and its history of fiscal discipline and willingness to work together shines through our government. It is also reflected through the bottom line. I am proud to say that our County has a tradition of electing solid, competent leaders who in turn employ excellent people to make our organization a leader in the State of Illinois.
Ultimately, the voters of Tazewell County select their leaders, and I believe they have taken that charge seriously and responsibly for many years. Our countywide elected officials include: the State’s Attorney, Sheriff, Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Treasurer, Coroner, Auditor, Regional Office of Education and County Board Chairman. Each of these offices is independent of one another, but they work together for the betterment of Tazewell County residents. This attitude is evident with all our employees, and hopefully, reflects well on those using our services.
Within the board office, our county administrator, Michael Freilinger, sets the tone for those areas of responsibility under board control. During the hiring process, the board was looking for specific leadership characteristics in our new administrator. Competence and the ability to implement our board’s vision were at the top of the list. He had those skills and was able to communicate them to all the employees within the board’s authority. Delegation of tasks and responsibilities were given to members of his staff according to their skillsets and areas of interest. They were given the resources and the freedom to accomplish their goals, and also held accountable for achieving them.
This delegation of responsibility has given employees an opportunity to develop their careers and stretched them. I am proud to report that each employee has come through this process with flying colors. The board and Mr. Freilinger had trust and confidence in their abilities, and they demonstrated that with their performance.
Another example of leaders setting the tone can be found in the budgeting process. Each year, the board sets parameters which departments are to use in setting their budgets for the following year. Finance Chairman Tim Neuhauser, along with Administrator Freilinger, then guide the board in the development of the new budget. This is a team effort that extensively involves Auditor Vicki Grasoff, as well as many other individuals. Because we work as a team, this process is accomplished in a fraction of the time it used to take.
Our employees are watching and often model the behavior we demonstrate. In Tazewell County, our leaders are leading by example and setting the tone. It is our obligation and privilege to lead in a manner that best reflects what is good about County government. Remember, “the speed of the leader, the speed of the team.” iBi