Friday, May 02, 2014

Leadership Tips

As we approach Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer's self-aggrandizing "Mayor's Celebration" - a dinner with the theme, "The Art of Leadership", to be held the evening of May 8th, I thought an article I read in the Wall Street Journal last Tuesday, April 29th, might be timely and enlightening.

As I've said many times, The Wall Street Journal is the best publication I read regularly.  The news is thorough and presented well - and timely.  The editorials, most of which are conservative, are also well-written.  The columnists are superb and the contributing commenters are usually excellent - experts in their fields.

With that as a preamble, I read the commentary by Barry Glassner (President and professor of sociology at Lewis & Clark College) and Morton Schapiro (President and professor of economics at Northwestern University) titled "Leadership Tips for College Presidents and CEOs".  I figured these two gentlemen just might know a thing or two on the subject - they did - so I'll share a thumbnail version for you here and hope I don't violate their copyright along the way.

Their commentary was broken into a dozen segments.  I'll give you the titles and snippets of their message for each.  I think you'll find them relevant to circumstances in Costa Mesa today.  I may offer a personal observation in bold red type.

1 - Think first, talk later.  Everything you say will be taken literally.  Don't ever think you're "off the record".  Apparently learned very slowly.

2 - Talk less, listen more.  Do not offer a grand plan before one exists.  Yep!

3 - Show up.  Every constituency wants you to be physically in the room on important occasions.

4 - Engage veteran employees.  You want them on your side and you'll learn from them.  Boy, ain't that the truth!

5 - Don't ignore the staff.  In companies, they are the face of the business.  In municipal government, too!

6 - Customers want to be consulted.  It is better to tell someone you have thoughtfully considered his or her suggestion than to give the impression you don't care.  This should ring a few bells....

7 - Answer nearly all messages.  This relates to the previous point.

8 - Use the board of trustees or directors.  The board is your boss, and if you don't like that, then keep your resume up to date.  Presume the "board" is your constituency - the residents.

9 - Community relations matter.  Bad relations with the local community can interfere with everything - building projects, programming, the provision of public services.  Maybe the most important point made in this commentary!

10 - Don't take things personally.  Many bad things are going to happen and you will be blamed for most of them.  Don't beat yourself up, and remember that things are never as bad as they look.

11 - Don't believe the hype.  Things aren't as good either.  Hyping short-term success can undermine long-term progress.  Maybe the second most important message...

12 - Don't neglect your health.  Reserve time to enjoy your life.  Act like a president and take control of your schedule.  Words for us ALL to live by...

There was much more to this commentary, but I think my edited version captures the tone.  Now, since the mayor says he doesn't have time to read "the blogs", will someone please send him the link to this one?  Thanks...

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