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7 Questions with Samose Mays

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Jonno White

7 Questions with Samose Mays

Name: Dr. Samose L. Mays

Current title: Director of Parks and Recreation

Current organisation: Bryan County Parks and Recreation

Dr. Samose L. Mays is the Parks and Recreation Director of Bryan County Georgia. He manages both North Bryan County Recreation and South Bryan County Recreation. Dr. Mays is also the founder of the Minority Recreational Leadership Academy (MRLA). The MRLA was formed to encourage more minorities to seek leadership positions in parks and recreation through mentorships and professional development. The MRLA is composed of recreational professionals from around the country with diverse academic backgrounds. Dr. Mays is also a member of NRPA (National Recreation and Park Association), NACPRO (National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials), GRPA (Georgia Recreation and Park Association) and the Black Doctoral Network (BDN).

He is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP), Certified Youth Sports Administrator (CYSA), and Aquatics Facilities Operator (AFO). His dissertation research in bullying prevention identifies that when youth are bullied in recreational sports, their participation in athletics decreases a year later. Dr. Mays was recently inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success.

7 Questions with Samose Mays

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1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

The most challenging aspect of being an executive of a large enterprise from my perspective is getting some employees to see themselves as leaders. My management style is transformational and my goal is to see each employee rise within the organization. It takes time for some employees to realize that you have their best interest in mind when their previous manager limited their growth.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I started with this organization (Bryan County Parks and Recreation) in an entry level position and was tasked with improving the relationship with a local organization that ran our soccer league. The relationship in the past was not very healthy and many past individuals that had my job quit abruptly. It was very challenging and there were some long nights and thoughts of quitting myself many times. I weathered the storm and vastly improved the relationship and changed the dynamics of the partnership in a positive way. Many county officials took notice to this and when the previous executive retired, I applied and got the position of Director. The work I did on a lower level ended up earning me the position that I have today. At that time I was over one recreation agency within the county and fast forward to today and I manage the entire county Parks and Recreation Department.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I still believe in being the first one on the scene and the last to leave. I wake up around 6:30am and arrive at work about 7:30am. My days can last 8 hours or 12 hours. In parks and recreation there are multiple sports going on in multiple locations and neighboring cities. I like to be visible but I cannot be in more than one place at a time so I have several managers that supervise these events. I am usually home by 8 to 8:30pm on busy days and 7pm on a regular day. My work is all about putting the right people in positions to be successful for the local community to enjoy our programs.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

The most significant leadership lesson I learned is, "A Boss says Go, A Leader says Let's Go". This applies to showing people what you want them to do and being there if they have questions opposed to giving orders and sitting back in your chair. Your team has to know that you are willing to do the same things that you have asked them to do.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker. This book gave me insight on getting the right things done. It taught me how to prioritize what was most important in regards to managing a large enterprise. I was naturally doing many of the things that the book advised but reading it allowed me to polish those skills as well.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

I build leadership capacity by trusting employees to do the jobs that I hired them to do. You have to trust and not micro manage. This will not work for everyone and some people may not survive in that system, but the ones that are successful inspire others around them.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

An intern that came into the enterprise that I manage in 2017 is now the Assistant Director. If you ask him today, he would tell you that he never expected to move to the top so quickly. This goes to show that it is not always what we see in ourselves, but what we see in others. The same people that saw me rebuild the relationship between the enterprise and one of our partners felt that I could lead the entire organization. I never thought that I could but someone else did. You never know who is watching so at all times, perform at your best.