Wise Leadership?

With all the Holiday gatherings over the past 2 weeks, no matter how hard you try, politics of the day always seems to creep into the conversations.

Working in the field that I do, I do not have the luxury of just aligning to my team (e.g. Democrat or Republican parties). No matter who is elected, or who has the majority, yours truly has to work with all electeds for the betterment of the organization.

Sometimes when you are in a position like City Manager you are to exercise leadership, and not get pulled into the politics. Sometimes not easy, often we are un-liked, and often not understood. Still, I think some lessons could be transferable to those who run for office.

I remember reading one history book where it claimed three wise men witnessed the birth of someone different that was going to impact history. I always thought it poignant that it was three wise men, not three really smart men, or three men with advanced degrees, or three people that were elected in a democratic election. Ah…something there with wisdom.

I also read an article recently in Inc. Magazine (by Brian Evje) about some points for those who exercise leadership. We tend to like things we agree with and a lot of what the article pointed out are things we strive for.

Often times while exercising leadership you have to hold people that work with you accountable. This is not always easy or fun. Accept that progress requires pressure, and it is our job to apply it responsibly.

We try not to focus the spotlight on our self but focus the spotlight on individuals who make good decisions. When we refocus the spotlight to those performing the work the results can help others thrive.  On the secondary level, if done well you may get time and space to observe others. We think people who exercise leadership must be excellent observers in order to decide where to go next.  It is hard to observe while you are in the spotlight. You might remember a blog mentioning having one foot on the balcony and one on the dance floor as an important trait for those in leadership positions.

We attempt to focus on the issues and not be “knee jerk” or react in the first emotion of an issue. During an important conversation or something that is emotionally engaging, how well you choose to focus on the deeper question and get to the heart of the matter often leads to solutions instead of verbal combat.

Sometimes not taking the path of least resistance is a challenge, but when you know what is right and why, it helps keep your focus. Yes, sometimes it gets complicated and messy. As important as deciding what to pursue (e.g. is the hill I want to die on) is deciding what to let go.  Letting go is sometimes equally as hard as deciding something new and untried.

Then there are the distractions. Some are real and some imagined. Remember a good conspiracy has a bit of fact to it to get people to say Hmm…I know that part is true. If you exercise leadership you have to make time to decide what is better left unaddressed and will therefore maintain your focus on the big picture and more important tasks.

Those in leadership do have critics are all around. Have you ever heard of the Monday morning quarterback?  If you are like me, I can be the biggest and loudest critic of myself. Reviewing what you’ve done and why, kind of an after action report, may be good but not letting the self-criticism interfere with your ability to move forward would be a shame.

Here, in our organization, we realize the leadership position of our organization on the larger stage is important to the economy of the region & State, and just turning 30 this year it is a great place to be. We look forward to the challenges that 2013 brings.

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  • Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager


    Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager

    Thoughts on running a city, daily musings, and everything in between.