True leadership, by definition, is effective. Jim Trull was an effective leader. In the nearly 25 years I knew Jim, I do not remember him ever raising his voice, using inappropriate language, or losing his temper. He was always congenial, soft spoken, and even keeled. A highly organized individual, Jim was a planner by nature and took schedules and commitments very seriously. He had served on the National Water Resources Association board of directors since 1984, and during the time I knew Jim, I can only recall one board meeting he did not attend. Jim was always the grown-up in the room, and a few of his thoughtful comments would bring focus back to a conversation or smooth potentially hurt feelings during a heated debate. Jim was so respected that his very presence in a meeting would improve the tone and the outcome. People would do their best to be agreeable and to resolve issues. People wanted him on their side and sought his counsel and guidance in resolving problems. No one ever wanted to disappoint him.
Always a humble and self-deprecating man, Jim was not comfortable with attention focused on him and his accomplishments. He declined being on the cover of this magazine on more than one occasion. He would say, “I appreciate the thought, but you should really think of so and so; they are doing some great work and should be recognized for it.” Our last conversation was about leadership. Jim said to me, “I have three people I manage, but they do all the work. I don’t do anything.”
When Jim received the Legacy Award from the Washington State Water Resources Association last December, it was clear that he was moved to receive such recognition and to have his family in attendance. Jim took great care in preparing his remarks. His “Kindness” speech explains a great deal about him as an individual and as a leader. We are very proud to publish Jim’s remarks and to dedicate this issue of Irrigation Leader magazine to his memory and his effective leadership.
Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@waterstrategies.com.