From the Chair

By: Connie J. Gores

One of my all-time favorite movies is the Wizard of Oz. I have fond memories of my siblings and I crowded around the television set, some of us on the sofa or chairs, others on the floor—all of us enthralled with the wonder and excitement of the annual drama and adventure. Whether it was the familiar tale, animals who sang and danced, the glorious colors of Oz, or the flying monkeys, the movie kept each one of us entranced every time the movie aired. And although I didn’t acknowledge it until much later, the underlying message resonated with me deeply. Regardless of where we go, regardless of where we think we want be or who we are meant to be, there really is “no place like home.”

As an adult, I have come to understand the word “home” from a different perspective. Whereas initially I thought of my home as a physical place, I now see that it is more than that. From a leadership perspective, I understand that one of the most important lessons in the story is the realization that each person has unimaginable promise; that the thing that frightens us most or the area in which we may feel most deficient may very well be the place where we will shine if we are given the opportunity to uncover the talent and possibility that was there all along.

Before Dorothy could return to Kansas, for example, she first had to meet some challenges and overcome some obstacles; she had to find the power within herself to learn about herself in a way that would not have been possible if she had not diverged from her daily routine. Just as the tin man for heart, the scarecrow for brains, and the lion for courage all had to discover that they had those traits all along, Dorothy had to take the time to test herself and reflect on her experiences before the answers became clear to her.

Short of being knocked on the head by flying debris from a windstorm, how do we discover our innate capacities and how do we clarify our values? How do we uncover the special traits and talents in ourselves and others? How do we harness the creative capacity in each of us? How do we become transformational leaders who truly make a difference?

The answer lies in being a reflective leader and person. To be reflective in our lives and work, we must take the time to listen in order to learn from others—time to listen fully and respectfully. It’s important to ask probing questions and seek new ways of seeing, doing, and of being. As reflective leaders, we need to seek an understanding of the patterns of behavior below the surface, to explore the depths of our own thinking as well as that of others. And most importantly, we must take time for ourselves in order to take the steps that will help us clarify our values, enhance our social and emotional intelligence, and develop cultural responsiveness as we cultivate a deeper understanding of our interconnectedness.

As reflective leaders, we can help envision the possibilities in others. We can discover the realization that within each of us is the answer to our personal happiness and success—and within each of us we can find our own personal “home.” 


Connie J. Gores is the Chair of the ACE Women's Network Executive Council and President of Southwest Minnesota State University.