Leadership by living: Examples to learn from

Most of my posts relate to my real life experiences and today will not be any different.  The one facet that will differ today is that I will be writing about two men who I have known in my life who exemplify leadership not only through what they say, but also through what they do.  There are some interesting similarities between these men, but there also some differences.  I can honestly say that my life has been greatly enriched by knowing both of them and the context I came to know them under was different for each.  One thing they both do have in common now is that they are both with their Creator because of their personal relationship with his Son, Jesus.  Enough introduction; let’s get on  to the post.

Jerry Boss lived in many parts of the world during his life.  I first came to know Jerry when I became a Rotarian in Franklin, TN in 2003.  Jerry was the president of our club soon after I joined and he added an addendum to the 4-way test that our club still lives by today.

Here is our 5-way test:

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it bring goodwill and better friendship?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
  5. Have fun!

If you are a Rotarian, or even if you are not, you cannot feel the full grasp of #5 without hearing the way Jerry or our club members would deliver that line.  Jerry had fun in almost everything he did, but he also made a significant impact in all phases of his life, whether it was through his church, his work with Rotary, his special friendship with the Salvation Army or his way of making everyone feel welcome and included.  He was always quick to remind you of his Hoosier roots from Indiana University and he had many a good story, with most of them fit for a PG crowd. 

There was a great gathering when Jerry passed earlier this year and we all learned about the significant impact he had in the US Embassy in 1979 when the insurgents took many of the inhabitants there hostage.  Jerry and his cohorts in the Army did amazing work to protect and save many who escaped the clutches of those who took our citizens captive and he rarely talked about it, never choosing to draw attention to himself.

Jerry also had a business of installing flag poles, something that fit well with his patriotic nature, and he was instrumental in helping to make my younger son’s Eagle Scout project a successful one.  He helped us install a flagpole at the Franklin YMCA in Franklin, TN.  This picture below will show you Jerry with my younger son, Matt Ryan.

Mel Hensey graduated from the University of Cincinnati and worked early in his career with Proctor and Gamble (P&G).  A native of West Virginia, Mel had a way of working with people, especially with engineers, that made him a highly desired facilitator in the engineering world, especially among the Civil ranks.  I first got to know Mel when he did some planning work for a firm I worked with in the engineering world and we found that we had many commonalities in our background and also in our interests, especially Scouting.  After I started my own firm I reached out to Mel again, and again, and again and he never tired of giving advice and referring me to his trusted clients.  Much of the success I have today comes from the trusted recommendation of Mel Hensey.

I was also fortunate that Mel opened the door for me to meet his wonderful wife, Carol.  I remember well the first time we had lunch in the Maineville area and we discovered that our server was the son of a friend of mine from my YMCA days.  The world is a small place!  The last time we broke bread together was earlier this year and it just happened to be Carol’s birthday.  I felt so honored to be able to share this time with them.

Just last week Mel went to be with his Creator and there is a measure of sadness, but also of joy, in knowing he lived his life to the fullest with the talents God provided to him while he was here.  In addition to his work with Scouting, Mel was also very active with his church and he also had a real interest in cleaning up and he told me once he calculated that he had picked up over 2 tons of litter around the Little Miami River, a river he could seem from his home every day.

There is not much else I can say, but here are a few closing comments about these two fine gentlemen:

  • They both had a strong relationship with their God
  • They both took time to get to know others well
  • They were both generous in giving their time to others
  • Their sense of humility was quite strong and they never sought to draw attention to themselves
  • They both gave back in so many ways.

All of us are blessed with others in our lives who serve to be the best leadership education we will ever receive.

I have been so fortunate to have a number of great friends and mentors in my life and Mel and Jerry are two of the best.

Who do you know that has showed you the way?

Even more importantly, who are you showing the way for now?

Mel and Jerry paid it forward for me.

Now I must go and do the same.