Editorial: Accountability is an important quality in a leader

All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes

-Winston Churchill

This winter (and now spring) weather has been as relentless as it has been unpredictable. There have been piles of wet snow, three nor'easters in a row, power outages, downed tree limbs and flooding. And that was just March coming in like a lion. So far, April doesn’t seem like much of a lamb.

On Monday, a snowstorm predicted for the area resulted in many schools calling for two-hour delays and in some cases, closures.

Darien’s School Superintendent Dan Brenner made the call to operate on a regular schedule. He did so because he said predictions were that the heaviest snow would fall after school was in session and it was expected to clear up by dismissal.

The weather did not cooperate, and later Dr. Brenner apologized for the decision. He admitted in hindsight a delay would have made more sense.

Because of the unpredictability of the weather, and the required timing of making the school call (4 to 5 a.m.), there are many “Monday morning quarterbacks” who decide the call was wrong.

It is a difficult decision for anyone to make, but Brenner has gone above and beyond to make his decisions, and decision process, transparent.

He tweets the decision on his public Twitter account, along with his reasoning, and thus subjects himself to a chorus of responding input. Most of it is criticism, and a lot of it is decidedly ill-mannered, and in some cases, nasty.

Brenner does not respond, engage or argue with these comments. In a recent Board of Ed meeting, he explained the process and reasoning, pointing out the difficulty of having to make the call so early.

Fundamentally, you can’t be a leader without making difficult decisions, in any capacity. Dr. Brenner has to make them for a community and for our most precious resources, our children.

A leader doesn’t have to be perfect, but to truly lead by example, especially in a public position, he or she must model the proper behavior.

The Darien school district has not always had the ideal levels of accountability and transparency.

Dr. Brenner has modeled both with his approach to snow days. He is to be commended for being transparent, and even further, he is to be commended for making an apology when he feels he made a mistake.

It is a lesson we could all do well to remember and to learn, and teach our children.

No one is above making a mistake, nor should anyone be above taking responsibility for them.

Accountability is an important quality in a leader, and in any human being who professes to have integrity.