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Women's Leadership Forum - November 9, 2007
Women & Leadership
The Honorable Kay Barnes
Distinguished Professor for Public Leadership
Former Mayor, Kansas City, MO
This event was co-sponsored by Park University's International Center for Civic Engagement and UMKC's Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life.
120 attendees packed the McCoy Meetin' House at Park University to attend
this event, which featured two of Kansas City's prominent women leaders.
Event moderator Linda Ward received more questions that she was able to ask
during the allotted time. Kay Barnes responded in writing to the questions
that were not asked during the forum:
What are your objectives for the Center for Leadership in your position as its founding Director?
My objectives for the Center include providing a focal point for leadership development within Park University/Hauptmann School for Public Affairs. Activities will include small group and one-on-one coaching, seminars and workshops on leadership principles and skills, and research and publishing opportunities.
When you were named Visionary of the Year and you saw the applause – mostly from other women – how did you feel at that moment?
I was honored to receive the "Visionary of the Year" award and deeply appreciate the support of so many women in the community. As I accepted the award and looked around the room, I felt a deep connection with the other women, knowing that we share many common values and goals. We also serve as important role models for one another.
What were your undergraduate and graduate areas of study? How did that prepare you for leadership?
My undergraduate degree from KU was in Secondary Education/English. My graduate degrees from UMKC were in Secondary Education and Public Administration/Organizational Behavior. The degree programs all prepared me for leadership in terms of the academic discipline and acquisition of knowledge. The MPA was particularly helpful in understanding how organizations function and the ways in which various constituencies in a community need to cooperate with one another.
How would you describe your management style? What do you look for and expect from the people that work for you?
My management/leadership style is primarily collaborative, although I've learned that an effective leader needs a range of behavioral options including dogmatic/"I'm in charge" when the occasion calls for it. I expect people with whom I work to be trustworthy, loyal, willing to learn, and not prone to "acting out" in the workplace.
How do you balance doing the right thing with the politically correct choice?
It's important to have as much information available as possible when faced with a complex issue. What are both the short and long-range potential impacts of a decision? Do I want to win the battle or war? In other words, multiple factors have to be taken into account... and then you make the best decision you believe you can make at the time.
As a college student, what did you do to prepare yourself to accept the role of a leader?
I was active in leadership activities both in high school and college. Taking courses on leadership-related topics can be helpful. However, actually being in leadership roles and learning from the experiences is the best teacher.
Is there any one personality trait that you believe is crucial for leadership?
Authenticity and honesty are particularly important characteristics. People may disagree on an issue, but being authentic and honest can lead to progress while the opposite is a dead end.
Leadership is being redefined, new concepts are applied; for example, power structures are broken down into flat structures where individuals are empowered with making responsible decisions. What are your thoughts on power structures/hierarchies vs. empowered individuals, where leaders are virtually “elected” by peers?
I believe in as "flat" a structure as possible. People need to be empowered as much as possible in any system. That is more likely to happen when there is a flexible and non-pyramidic structure.
I am employed as a full-time attorney; my husband is a practicing physician. Do you have any advice on balancing parenting and my career and not allowing my husband’s career to overshadow mine (leaving me 100% responsible for child rearing)?
This is a tough one. It has to be a set of "rules of the game" agreed upon by the two of you. Negotiating those rules can be time-consuming and difficult. However, if you can come out the other end of the process recognizing that you're true partners, that's truly a "win-win." Good luck!