Saturday, July 7, 2012

Leadership Lessons from Sheriff Andy Taylor

Barney! You beat everythin'... you know that? – Sheriff Andy Taylor

Last week we lost a beloved television icon – Andy Griffith passed at the age of 86. Griffith starred in numerous television shows over the years but is best remembered for his role as the folksy Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show.

Recognized by TV Guide as the 9th best show in television history, its timeless appeal and life lessons have entertained generations of loyal viewers. Surrounded by a cast of characters such as Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts), Opie (Ron Howard) Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) and Gomer (Jim Nabors), the show remains a fan favorite today. 

The passing of Andy Griffith leaves a void in an otherwise challenging era of television where we could perhaps use a little more Mayberry and a little less Jersey Shore. But that aside, the lasting values that The Andy Griffith Show espoused over the span of an eight-season run remain with us. Sheriff Andy Taylor taught us valuable leadership lessons. Here are a few worth remembering.

Lead from the heart not by the book. While sworn to uphold the law Andy taught us that sometimes it’s best to lead more by the heart than by the book. Andy’s deputy, Barney Fife, was a straight-arrow, letter-of-the-law enforcer. And while Andy appreciated the zeal displayed by his eager deputy, he taught us that in life sometimes its grace extended that means more in the long run than adherence to strict codes. Andy taught us the value of leadership from the heart.

Loyalty is never out of style. Andy taught us the value of friendship. Regardless of how bad Barney, Otis, or Gomer may have messed things up or demonstrated their ineptness; Andy seldom allowed their actions to cast them in a bad light. Andy had a way of finding the silver lining and their mistakes less than what they seemed. Andy modeled a leadership style that always cast others in a good light, even at his own expense. In business, loyalty is a two-way street; Andy shows us that it’s still in vogue.   

Slow down and enjoy the journey. Regardless of the duties of his office, Andy always found time to take Opie fishing, Helen Crump on a picnic, to stop by the fillin’ station for a bottle of pop, or strum the guitar on the back porch at night. The demands on leaders are a constant and the “tyranny of the urgent” always remains with us. Andy taught us that the demands of the office will always be with us, but there are no do-overs on spending time with those we love and taking time to slow down and appreciate the journey.

Old-fashioned values still matter. Andy taught us of the value of friendship and that old-fashioned values like honesty and serving others mean just as much today in New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles as they did in Mayberry. We are all too familiar with the excesses and abuses of power and greed, but Andy reminds us that the guiding principles of hard work, friendship and loyalty are just as relevant as ever. Call me a dreamer, call me naive, but the leadership secrets of Sheriff Andy Taylor are time-tested and worth a second look. The 249 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and its enduring popularity are leadership lessons that will remind you to slow down, care more, enjoy life, and lead from the heart.

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

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