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Imparting leadership, and listening

Commissioners Tidd

31 Oct 2013

e-connect asks Commissioners Floyd and Tracey Tidd for their views on Salvation Army social work, the territory’s social endeavours and their experiences within Australia and their native Canada.

 

 

e-connect: The first African American woman elected to US congress, Shirley Chisholm, once famously said, ‘When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom profit that loses’ – it’s a challenge for churches and NGOs, as well as for corporate organisations and governments…that pursuit of mission ties in with leadership. Commissioner Floyd Tidd, in one article in the Canada and Bermuda Territory’s Salvationist magazine* you quoted General William Booth giving some astute leadership advice to his daughter, Evangeline: ‘Don’t watch the waves; watch the tide.’ How does that relate to you in your leadership and leadership team, trying to watch the big picture?
http://salvationist.ca/2013/05/watching-the-tide/

Commissioner Floyd Tidd:  It’s a significant part of the role of THQ, and specifically  territorial leadership, to step back and watch for not just the waves but the tide; the trends.   What’s happening, where is this going? If we continue to move in this direction, are we responding properly to a long term shift, or is there a necessary response to an immediate and temporary situation?

That is a critical role of territorial leadership; to look back, look across, and step back from urgency. We have a risk that the longer we are away from the frontline, the more likely the chance that we may miss the wave.  We must listen to our frontline people, whether they are program staff or officers, soldiers and partners, to hear not only what is imminent and pressing but across the territory what is common and shifting.

It’s not a matter of keeping our eye on the waves – we are looking for the tidal changes and pulls. But if you don’t watch the waves you won’t notice the tide; you are the ‘frog in the kettle’ [a hapless amphibian, thus ensconced, doesn’t notice the gradual increase in heat until it’s charbroiled].

 

e-connect: Commissioner Tracey Tidd, you stress the importance of sharing and listening to people’s stories; being impacted by people’s life experiences… How are you sharing stories; have you had many opportunities?

Commissioner Tracey Tidd: Not only here at THQ, and around the territory as we have been visiting, but also in my daily routines. In local stores, with my dry cleaner… it’s engaging in conversations and building bridges with people.

FT: People are quick to tell their stories…

TT: They are, and they know me by name now. I can go into my dry cleaners, and Vanessa will say, ‘Hi Tracey, how are you?’ I share a little of my story of the day and in return I listen to a bit more of her story.  I build that bridge.

 

e-connect: They sense you are not going to run away, but will engage with them?

TT: I think so. I wear uniform to the shopping centre; they know I’m ‘Salvation Army’ – that’s a part of my story. It’s important for people to have opportunity to share their story. When we did a Salvation Army fun run last Saturday we met a young girl from Iran. She goes to this park all the time, walks around and around. She wanted to know what we were doing there and someone was talking to her. We came into the conversation and heard her story. She joined our race and we got to hear her story in the end.

She has been here for a few months and has just gotten married. She is a student, and we are connecting her with a Salvation Army person in her area, through a corps close to her. She wants to volunteer and learn English.

FT: Her husband only has two cousins in Australia…

TT: So they don’t really know anybody. 

FT: When the ladies were talking to her, she ended up having a photo taken with a bunch of us on her i-phone, and she literally clapped and said, ‘happiest day, happiest day…’

TT: ‘I have new friends today…’

 

e-connect: Listening is obviously crucial, not only to your leadership but to your marriage; it’s an important process. We’ve touched on some aspects of culture shock, but is there anything that has completely thrown you, or are you completely at home now?

TT: We are feeling very much at home. It’s very much like Canada, but the weather’s different. Come December and January we may miss our snow, or skiing…

FT: Culturally, it’s very similar; it’s not been too difficult to settle. Most of the time we’re on the ‘right’ side of the road, which is the left side of the road. Once in a while we still walk to the ‘wrong side’ of the car.

We are grateful to so many who have made it very easy for us to feel at home very quickly.

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