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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, July 7, 2004


Mentors lead by example

Sun Valley Leadership Institute aims to shape ethical leaders

Express Staff Writer

The first annual Sun Valley Leadership Institute Symposium sponsored by First Bank of Idaho recently invited leaders throughout the community and the nation to discuss the values and behaviors that build sound organizations.

The meeting, titled "The Importance of Ethical Leadership in Building Successful Organizations," inaugurated the organizationís efforts. SVLI invited an array of leaders in business, government and education to speak to the challenges leaders face today and the need to help infuse integrity and character into these positions.

The new nonprofit organization aims to develop effective leaders in order "to bring ethical behavior to corporate, government and other nonprofits," explained Sun Valley Leadership Institute founder and chairman Bob Mobley.

Mobley, of Sun Valley, is working with the Instituteís co-founder and president, David Holmes, to develop a culture of clear values within local and national organizations.

Holmes expanded on the Instituteís mission: "Good intentions are not enough. We need effective and responsible leaders in all organizations."

The organization hopes to capitalize on the leadership resources within the valley, in order to better leadership efforts locally and nationally.

"We are blessed with a reservoir of leaders in Sun Valley," Holmes said.

Given the depth of leadership in the community, the group intends to begin their efforts in the valley. "Our goal is to start with the community and work outwards," Mobley explained.

One such potential direction for SVLI emerged during the questions and answer session. Blaine County Commissioner Sarah Michael remarked, "Iíve always thought if we had a resource base of executives in the valley, it would be tremendously helpful. There is no reason we could not be the best model of public service."

Mobley responded, "We are all partners in this. We are in a position to make this a better community."

The Institute is founded on the premise that healthy high level leadership begins in young people.

"All students have the potential to be leaders," said Holmes, a former headmaster of Connecticutís Suffield Academy.

Holmes developed a model for leadership in education. He introduced the first four-year leadership curriculum to his students at Suffield Academy.

"At the core, American youth have the passion to succeed," Holmes added.

One of the components of the organizationís mission statement is that success comes from instilling the fundamentals of moral leadership in young people. The group also believes all institutions, from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofit organizations, need to integrate ethical standards into daily corporate life.

Standards begin with model behavior at the highest level.

"When a CEO picks up a shovel, he instills commitment and confidence in his workers," explained Vernon Loucks Jr., retired chairman and CEO of Baxter International, who spoke at the symposium.

In contrast to the exemplary CEO, Loucks said, "The perception today is that leaders today are guilty until proven innocent."

He concluded that in order to change perceptions, and the direction of business "we need to promote talent founded in character and good values."

Others also offered their perspectives on the ingredients for healthy leadership.

"Women can make an incredible contribution to the top tier if they are included," emphasized Mary Murphree, an expert on womenís employment.

Murphree is the eastern regional administrator of the womenís bureau for the U.S. Department of Labor.

She spoke as a private citizen on the need to promote women in leadership roles. She cited the in roads women are making as managers, but also pointed to the gender gap in leadership at the corporate level. According to Murphree, women hold only 8 percent of the CEO positions of Fortune 500 companies.

Murphree detailed barriers of entry women face at work, from issues in recruitment to mentoring. She emphasized the issues are all solvable and summarized that society needs to capitalize and cultivate female leadership.

Speaking to the challenges and all that lies ahead, Mobley concluded, "this is the beginning of the journey."

The journey will incorporate the talent of valley leaders, with coaching and mentor techniques. The Sun Valley Leadership Institute will tailor to its clientsí needs at on-site and Sun Valley-based seminars.


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