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Scholar Spotlight: Q&A with Brent Taylor
Presidential Leadership Scholar Dr. Brent Taylor shares his latest updates since graduating from the program in 2016, leadership lessons he learned in PLS, and what gives him hope.
Brent, please give us an update on what you have been working on since graduating from PLS in 2016.
During the past four years, I have the privilege to wear diverse hats that enable me to apply the leadership lessons of PLS in many settings. As a pastor, I walked with our church through a complete relocation to a large property north of Dallas. PLS training provided that extra push over the hills and valleys of the relocation journey and into the uncharted territory of operating during a pandemic. The term “pivot” is nothing new for PLS students – and now I have the opportunity to add movement to our principles.
Involvement with PLS and access to the wonderful Presidential Library system also has inspired the completion of my second book, Presidential Leadership: What Presidents Can Teach You About Being a Better Leader, which was published October 6, 2020. Honestly, I had a lot of fun with this book. By pairing two presidents per chapter, I was able to highlight leadership actions everyone can apply in their lives while also pulling out lesser-known aspects of each President’s personality and character.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work?
COVID-19 has both reaffirmed and challenged my work in ministry, education and leadership. While COVID closed the doors of our church for in-person worship services, it also opened many doors to help people in need through our food pantry and new operations. I probably made more difficult and unprecedented decisions from March through August than the previous two years combined. But as your library visually conveys, crisis and opportunity often walk hand-in-hand, and it is during some of the darkest hours that light shines most brightly.
What leadership lessons did PLS teach you that you have implemented recently?
Over the past year, I have often implemented the PLS module on making tough decisions. Primarily, the example of President Bush and his principles for definitive decision-making, have guided me through difficult challenges. In fact, his words and work inspired the chapter in Presidential Leadership detailing how he modeled courageous decision-making. These lessons are not just inked on paper in the book, but are action words I also employ in my own life.
Which aspects of the program do you carry with you most?
Certainly, just being part of a dynamic and diverse community is the most impactful aspect of this program. The inspiration and courage to create and write my recent book was birthed through PLS, and gratefully dedicated to PLS. In my work and home life, I carry with me the memories of sitting around the table with past Presidents and current leaders as inspiration to pursue excellence and camaraderie wherever life takes me.
What gives you hope?
For me, hope is grounded in my faith and the assurance that goodness will always prevail. Certainly, our Presidents can attest there is no brighter light, than the one that overcomes the darkness. There was a time when AIDS was pandemic in Africa. But into that dark season, President Bush helped shine the light of PEPFAR, leading to the dramatic saving of lives and reversal of despair.
We are coming up on the 2020 PLS Alumni Reunion. What are you most excited for?
Connecting with my friends in community! PLS is a group of diverse people who have forged lifelong friendships in spite of our differences. I am so grateful to reunite with such inspiring people.