The vain and overrated search for new leaders
What we need is a leader … someone who can set direction for the community.
That seems to be the mantra of those with the unenviable task of selecting the next city manager and new Tahoe Regional Planning Agency director. Theirs is an arduous task of sorting through hundreds of applicants to find the person with the right mix of experience, managerial expertise and charm to walk into complicated and highly visible jobs. To make the prospects worse, the pay offered for both positions is low when compared to other communities.
In the quest to fill these two top positions, the rally cry seems to be “we need a leader” – a white knight, if you will, to sound the charge and lead the rest of us bravely to the next level.
But a white knight is hardly what we need. The charge has already been sounded and the troops have already been rallied.
The TRPA has a clear set of objects, a plan that should take us well into the next two decades. It’s all down in black and white. It has been years in the making, but now it just needs to be implemented.
While the city’s objectives are less clear cut, it too has a plan. The successful implementation of redevelopment, the future financial security of the city, the centralization of city departments, the successful completion of a recreation plan and the rehabilitation of Highway 50 are just five tasks facing the new city manager, but tasks if completed will make a huge difference to this small town. Again, the key is getting someone to implement them.
What’s the difference between a leader and an implementor? It’s the difference between someone who talks the talk and someone who walks the walk. A leader has the drive to create. An implementor has the drive to do.
That’s why it is silly to ask candidates to express their vision for the area. As a community, we have created that vision over the last decade. The last thing we need is a new vision.
A far more appropriate question is how does this candidate propose to carry out that vision. What specific projects or experience does that candidate bring to further the goals of our community. The candidate may not be the one with the brightest, shiniest resume. It may be the one who has been an exceptional number two guy behind a charismatic number one.
We need a doer, not a dreamer. But it is human nature to want to put our confidence in someone who has a dream and articulates that vision with great presence and emotion. We want to be led. Then thinking isn’t required of us, only reacting.
While the next city manager or TRPA director needs to be able to create bridges between various factions, neither position should be viewed as the great compromiser. Doers are not necessarily placaters. If we are looking for someone to build consensus, little of our enormous community agenda will get accomplished. We have been there, done that and have the master plan. Now it’s time to find the task-minded person to carry out the plan.
Give me a woman or man who execute the dream, not the one who dreams it.
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