Trust is the Key to Effective Leadership
By Krista Rinehart, CSG Toll Fellows Program Director
All eyes have been on the debt ceiling debate in Washington, D.C., and the partisan gridlock that threatened to paralyze the federal government the last few weeks. Alabama state Rep. Paul DeMarco watched the debate with a sense of frustration at the inability of both sides to compromise.
“You can reach a compromise without compromising your convictions,” said DeMarco. “Too many leaders go into negotiations with an all-or-nothing attitude.”
For DeMarco, the key to being an effective leader often comes down to one’s ability to earn the trust of others. The tensions in Washington, he said, seem to be the result of a lack of trust.
“Lack of trust and real communication appear to be our real problems,” he said. “(It’s) no different than what you might find at home or at the office. It is easier to reach a consensus if those you are working with believe you are sincere in your beliefs.”
DeMarco graduated from Auburn University, then studied law at the University of Alabama, where he served as the editor of the law review. DeMarco was recognized in 2002 by the Birmingham Business Journal as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” leaders and was selected for the 2007 Toll Fellowship Program. In addition, he served as the president of the Birmingham Bar Foundation in 2005.
DeMarco’s involvement illustrates his leadership style and philosophy—he believes it’s important to give more than you receive.
“Leading by example is important,” he said. “A strong work ethic and communication with those you lead will help earn the trust of those you seek to lead. Growing up, I was taught to give back more than you receive.”
The lesson of giving back was one DeMarco began learning at an early age from the examples set by his parents and grandparents.
“My grandparents and parents were willing to make sacrifices to support their families,” said DeMarco. “A good leader is willing to make sacrifices as a public servant.”
A Birmingham, Ala., native, DeMarco began taking on leadership roles at a young age. Active in his local Boy Scout troop, he worked his way up to serve as patrol leader and senior patrol leader before earning the designation of Eagle Scout. He continues to be active with the Scouts as a member of the executive board of the Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
DeMarco credits his childhood lessons in sacrifice and leadership with prompting his desire to run for office.
“Alabama has been good to my family,” said DeMarco. “Serving in the role of state representative has given me the opportunity to give back to my community. When you are able to assist someone with a problem, it is rewarding. Helping constituents through the maze of government red tape is one of the most important aspects of my position. That motivates me to work hard every day.”