fromtheChairW15 tall

February 2015

marklowequoteAs you may recall, my predecessor, the inimitable (and I use that adjective with utmost sincerity, regard and affection) Jennifer Cohan of Delaware made leadership development a key objective of her tenure as chair. Jennifer’s efforts resulted in AAMVA’s inaugural Leadership Academy, which was held Nov. 17–21, 2014, at AAMVA’s headquarters in Arlington.

I had the opportunity to attend the entire week, and I’m pleased to report that AAMVA staff delivered Jennifer’s vision to near perfection. The inaugural class included 23 attendees who represented a terrific cross section of the AAMVA community, not only in terms of geography, but in experience and program responsibility as well.

I admit that I approached the first day with a bit of apprehension. Would we deliver content that was fresh and valuable? Would participants be engaged or bored? Once the academy started, however, my apprehensions were quickly erased. The courses presented adeptly blended practical and theoretical leadership concepts, and did so in a dynamic, engaging manner that integrated universal leadership concepts with concepts and roles specific to motor vehicle administration and the AAMVA community.

These topics included leadership in a state government agency, team building through collaboration and innovation, leading conflict, industry partnership and ethics, customer service principles, working with state legislators, understanding emotional intelligence in leadership, performance management, AAMVA 101, and public speaking and media relations. A special thanks to all who presented these great sessions.

Participants also visited the USDOT headquarters and visited with FMCSA and NHTSA staff. Along the way, they got a chance to stop at the Capitol building and tour a variety of famous monuments and sites.

As well done as the program was, the best part of the academy was the class members. They demonstrated great focus, energy, participation and interaction, and were a daily example of what I have consistently maintained—that the power of AAMVA is not in the relative few that have the honor and privilege of serving on the Board or as an officer, but in the collective talent, experience, intelligence and dedication of the remarkable and diverse people that daily pursue the AAMVA vision of safe drivers, safe vehicles, secure identities and saving lives.

The “Class of 2014” ably represents a leadership principle (attributable to Leading Change by John Kotter) that I place great stock in: Leadership is not the work of a single charismatic individual, but the collective work of many people throughout our community, each having a positive influence on his or her own sphere of activity.

I had the privilege of addressing our inaugural graduates, and when I did I challenged them to use the concepts and tools they learned during the week not only within their own jurisdictions and agencies, but within AAMVA, too. I also asked them to remember that leadership properly resides in all levels of an organization.

So, to my fellow administrators, I make a similar challenge: Remember that as leaders, the best thing we can do is to build our organization and AAMVA by developing leadership at all levels of our organization, and commit to sending members of our staff to an upcoming Leadership Academy. The next academy will be in May 2015. We hope to see someone from your jurisdiction there.

As always, stay safe in all that you do! 

Mark Lowe

AAMVA Chair of the Board