By Teddye Snell
Smith’s book, “Leadership Lessons From The Cherokee Nation,” published by McGraw Hill, explains in detail how he developed a model to move the tribe forward throughout his 12-year tenure.
“Four years ago, I wanted to write this as an employee handbook,” said Smith. “What we found is we needed to streamline a philosophy for running our government, which included over 150 different products and services. And I recalled what [full-blood Cherokee traditionalist] Benny Smith said to me at my inauguration in 1999: ‘Be a student of the Cherokee people and nation,’ or learn from all I observe.”
Smith pointed out that given the number and diversity of the tribe’s interests, he would need an overarching concept of management.
“You can’t run a marshal service the way you run a hospital, and you can’t run a school the way you run an aerospace company,” said Smith. “So, I took Benny’s words very seriously; we simply needed to look at our history to gain clarity about where we wanted to go. We concluded our design purpose was to be a happy, healthy people. It’s important to get from A to B in 10 words or less.”
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