First, a big shout-out and congratulations to all of this year’s winners of the 40 Leaders Under Forty award. I am always amazed at the talent produced by our region. These individuals have remarkable vision and leadership qualities, dedicating their time to their careers, community and families. Thank you for all you do.
I recently attended a meeting where we were all asked to bring one of our favorite quotes. One of the quotes that stood out to me was: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Many individuals from throughout our region are the leaders they are today because of their hard work, combined with a passionate vision. Of course, they all have talent and intelligence—but their perseverance and passion have combined to bring them to the forefront of their organizations.
Other character traits are certainly crucial to becoming a truly effective leader. They include respect for others and a trust that only develops over time when people see the real you. Decisiveness can also define a leader. The inability to make hard decisions or unwillingness to potentially upset someone by making a difficult decision can undercut your authority in no time.
These leadership traits are as critical for the company CEO as they are for the local PTA president, the church pastor or a parent raising their children. Wherever you have been placed in this life, you can be a leader. Doing things with passion and purpose—even when it is just you—makes you that leader.
We have been fortunate in Tazewell County to have a caliber of employees leading us with so many of these traits. Amy Fox, our Health Department Director, recently saw her department receive national accreditation status. Her dedicated leadership and the hard work of a very capable staff have given our county a designation very few have attained. The “triple-A” principles of attitude, ability and action—along with the department’s mission, vision and values—give Amy and her staff a foundation for successful leadership. Additionally, Amy is currently president of the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators, which represents 97 of 102 Illinois counties.
Another leader I would like to highlight is coming to the end of her 35-year career with Tazewell County. Vicki Grashoff chose not to run again for auditor after serving several very successful terms. She and I were sworn in on the same evening nearly 20 years ago, and she has always been a tremendous help to me personally and to the county as a whole. What makes Vicki unique as a leader is that despite a small staff, her influence and leadership are felt throughout the entire county and even regionally. Her integrity and passion for her job are evident in the work she produces and the people who seek out her advice and opinions in so many situations. Vicki’s leadership has developed by necessity over her 35 years of service. She will be greatly missed but not forgotten. Thank you for all you have done.
When talented people, working hard and with integrity, put their minds to something, there is no limit to what can be accomplished. It is exciting to imagine where our leaders in Tazewell County and the 40 leaders being honored in this issue will lead us in the future. Thank you everyone for leading well. iBi