So, there I was returning from a few days of skiing in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and I find myself watching Man vs. Wild on the inflight entertainment. It seems host Bear Grylls had invited actor Jake Gyllenhall out on an expedition exploring Iceland during some pretty harsh conditions. Jake was speaking to the camera about his various concerns, while not a novice survivor type, he admitted he was somewhat reluctant about this opportunity to test his intestinal fortitude and then remembered a quote he had heard – “Let Fear Be Your Guide.” What a powerful quote to examine. Fear can suppress us personally and professionally from pursuing our potential. Like most of you, I’ve known so many people throughout my life who created invisible barriers to following their dreams and decided to settle for what was comfortable or easily attainable. I’ve always sought to keep my life – personally and professinally – on an upward trajectory and as we realize, it takes effort and not just more of the same, but doing different things and doing things differently. While in Steamboat Springs, we went tubing which was exhilirating. My 6-year old son, Maximiliano, kept saying let’s go again, Dad! All you parents out there can relate. He didn’t really know it was a bit scary for his ol’ Dad flying down a packed sheet of snow and ice, on a piece of rubber at speeds which seemed close to qualifying for a NASCAR race. I admit when we stopped, my heart was racing but boy, did I feel totally in the moment and fully alive! My son simply wanted to experience the moment. I always share with my son, that it’ s okay to be afraid so long as it doesn’t stop you (him) from trying and I try to model that behavior. Ask yourself, when’s the last time you tested yourself – personally and professionally – I mean really put yourself in a situation where you felt uncomortable. It’s healthy and each of us grows when we “get out of our comfort zone” consciously and experience a new sensation. So, let fear be your guide and continue your journey of getting better all the time.
How many times have we heard the phrase “well, we have to tighten our belt,” or “do more with less”…it’s so yesterday. A number of government leaders today approach problem-solving with the same old tools they’ve always used, and guess what, they’re not having the impact they once did. Progressive and aggressive leaders are translating the headwinds they face into a tailwind by utilizing entrepreneurial tactics to disrupt the bureacratic gravity which often suppresses positive change. Sara Hensley, the dynamite Parks and Rec Director for the City of Austin, Texas chose to contract with the local YMCA to operate a Rec Center the city was opening. This is a dramatic shift from the “we’ve always done it that way” which advocates the only way to address community issues is with employing more government employees. Not so fast! Granted, every agency has more than their share of archaic procurement policies which are often barriers to “doing things different and doing different things” but they can be overcome with the right mix of political will and leadership currency. I’ve worked with Sara and a number of other forward thinkers who believe government’s role is expanding but recognize that doesn’t have to mean more government employees. These people are members of the creative class who advocate innovation not just in theory but in real-life application. We need to identify and support these government disrupters and scout for more to add to the team responsible for helping their organizations “get better all the time.”
In the last 10 days, our team has consulted with three different cities of various sizes, with populations ranging from approximately 15,000 people to over 790,000 people, along with speaking at a conference of city and county leaders in Arizona. Each of these municipalities had a different purpose for engaging with The Mejorando Group, from government innovation to smart growth planning to stronger, more effective leadership.
Where’s the crossover?
With each municipality, in order to begin to reach their goals, the process begins by formulating a plan and implementing it strategically.
In Eloy, Arizona, a community of just over 15,000 people, in an effort to fortify leadership capabilities of the entire leadership team, we conducted a 360-degree assessment of the City Manager and each City Department Director. The results of a 360-assessment are extremely beneficial and we worked with each person to translate their results into a powerful and practical Plan of Action designed to improve their performance.
In Bismarck, North Dakota, with a population of just over 60,000, we refined the city’s strategic growth plan to focus on five particular areas: smart growth management, community culture and vibrancy, public safety, infrastructure, and economic development opportunities. The intent is to ensure the quality of life to which residents have been accustomed is not only maintained, but enriched. Remember, for things to remain the same, things must change.
In Austin, Texas, a community of over 790,000 people, we partnered with the Director of the Communications and Technology Department and provided a training workshop entitled “The Future is Now” to his entire workforce. The intent was to raise the awareness about the most pressing challenges confronting the Department, stressing that creating and implementing solutions is crucial to ensure the Department’s continued viability. A discussion was facilitated with Stephen Elkins and his leadership team to select immediate actions to be taken, with the first step being the formation of an Innovation Team and a process to pursue Strategic Planning.
Finally, in Sedona, Arizona, I served on a panel discussion at a conference of the Arizona City/County Management Association. The topic was government succession planning which is an approach to ensure the efficient and continuous delivery of government services through a qualified, capable and energized workforce. Public sector employee turnover continues and progressive leaders realize that targeted efforts must be accelerated to ensure their workforce is fully prepared to meet tomorrow’s challenges. Successful succession planning requires a comprehensive and systematic approach involving steps from recruitment through training, and ultimately, leadership development activities.
Whether your government is working on something as big as these three cities are, or searching for a method to optimize employee performance and communication and interaction with your residents, it all starts the same way. The key to success is to determine where you are and where you want to be. Set your goals. Make your plan. And strategically execute!
Need help with putting a plan together? We’d be happy to help! Call us at (925) 518-0187 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listening to music can generate powerful reactions and emotions. Instantly when we hear a particular song, we’re transported to another time and place in our lives – sometimes we wax nostaligically about those times while it may also remind us of a time we were struggling with an event or a broken heart. I’ve always been fascinated with the power of music in the workplace. There were times when I worked inside that I would ask co-workers what type of music they’d like me to bring in that week for us to enjoy. Sometimes it was Johnny Cash or the O’Jays, but whoever it was we listened to the mood of the office shifted significantly; I could “see” how the music changed the moods of my co-workers – a boost to their mood, a kick in their step or sometimes, a somber sadness across their face. Regardless, music helps us feel vibrant and alive, which sure beats feeling numb. So, when you think of how music affects your career, consider your personal Playlist. I encourage you to listen to music that both inspires you and motivates you to aspire to reach greater heights. I’m listening to Coldplays’ “Mylo Xyloto” as I pen this blog and it helps me think clearly and feel connected so I can write something that helps you think, feel and act to get better all the time.