Terri Callahan, Director of the Kansas Certified Public Manager® Program, was recently asked the following questions: What do you feel are the main reasons that people should enroll in the CPM program? What are the main benefits to them? To their agency?
“To me, the Kansas Certified Public Manager (CPM) program is all about participants gaining leadership and managerial competencies. This includes the confidence to lead organizations in new directions, empower their employees, and engage their employees in the vision of the organization. I want CPM participants to build a culture in their organization that motivates and develops employees.
Organizations need to take on the task and focus of building highly-trained dedicated leaders and managers. It is a sad truth that more people leave their “bosses” than their jobs. Well-trained leaders, and even leadership teams, are needed for organizations to be progressive, creative, and innovative. Creativity and innovation will not happen if employees are not motivated and instead suffer under poor leadership.
In sending leaders and managers to CPM, organizations directly benefit from the CPM Capstone Project since the goal of each project is to generate process improvement, cost-savings, or innovative ideas.”
If you’re a CPM graduate or a current student, what were the reasons you chose to enroll? If you are a supervisor of a CPM graduate or student, what were the reasons that you encouraged your employee to attend? What benefit(s) did you or your agency gain?
Comments Delivered By Maury Thompson, Assistant County Manager, Johnson County On February 1, 2013
Thank you, Noel for the opportunity to share thoughts on leadership – particularly as it relates to the public sector.
As Noel indicated in her invitation to me – perhaps my personal, professional story could serve as a demonstration of the sort of possibilities the Emerging Leaders Academy participants/graduates are encouraged to consider and plan for.
So, my story…
Bachelor of Arts – Criminal Justice/Political Science (1984)
Direct Support Professional at Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS) (1986)
Increasing positions of responsibility for the next 15 years
Master’s degree in Public Affairs (1998)
Executive Director of Non-profit, community building (2001)
Executive Director, Johnson County Developmental Supports (2007)
Assistant County Manager (2013)
So, from front-line employee to Executive Director to Assistant County Manager, how I got from there to here, and what have I learned?
As each of you have demonstrated with your participation in this program, I realized the importance of education – not only as a base of knowledge – but also the need for the continuous acquisition of knowledge, or learning.
I don’t want to underestimate the importance of education and the commitment to continuous learning, because they are so fundamental to professional growth, but I want to spend the next few minutes sharing a few simple leadership lessons I’ve learned along the way.
For my Assistant County Manager interview I had to share my leadership philosophy. It forced me to spend time pondering what my philosophy is.
Like the book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” most of what I have come to know as sound leadership advice, I learned from my parents at an early age. Hopefully that’s true for you too.
Simple Leadership Lessons
Care for others, (those doing the work and those we’re doing it for). For most of us this is the very reason we have chosen public service as a vocation. We want to help. (Servant Leadership)
If the job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. (Excellence)
When you’re talking to someone, look them in the eye. Listen to what others have to say. Give them the attention they deserve. Don’t be too busy to extend this courtesy. But make sure your actions are sincere. People know the difference between sincere concern and hollow action. (Respect)
Be willing to take risk – offering yourself up as a leader, speaking out when needed. Swallow hard, stand up, speak out – even when you know you may be passed over, rejected or fail. Keep trying. My secret – the rest of the story – or what happened between those career advancements. I applied for the JCDS Executive Director and the Assistant County Manager positions – twice. Others often only know when advancement occurs, not those that didn’t occur. It’s not always about you. The organization’s current needs must best match your strengths. (Risk and Persistence)
Be willing to make a decision – sometimes with limited information. Know when you can wait for more information and when a decision is needed now. Know when to say “I’ve made a mistake,” when to change your mind, and when to continue to stick with a decision. (Humbleness/Flexibility/Conviction)
Work can be important and it can be hard, but we can enjoy it and each other. Humor is critical!
You have to put in the time. Here’s where those of you who did the math earlier can now suggest it’s the old guy talking – but, I believe I’ve observed, in our quest to find a more appropriate balance of work and life, that perhaps in at least some instances, the pendulum has swung too far. Sometimes you have to work a little harder and a little longer to get the job done well and to find career advancement. (Work/Life Balance)
Don’t expect to change the world in a week. Most change is incremental. It takes time to learn – people, the situation, the history, etc. before change is effective. Small changes motivate and build support for more change, or as Jim Collins refers to it – the flywheel. (Adaptability)
Believe in yourself! Have a sense of optimism. I may not know how today, but I can figure it out! (Hopefulness)
Tell people what you know. When staff ask, tell them what you know and what you’re thinking. It builds trust, understanding and credibility. (Transparency)
Finally – You’re only a leader if others agree to follow. Leadership is earned. A leader takes counsel and direction from others (Board members, peers, and employees). You only lead as long as you represent those who have placed that trust in you (employees and bosses).
I started by sharing that Noel had suggested because of my story, I might be an example for you. Hopefully I illustrated that by sharing my story – of working up through the ranks. I have perhaps underestimated the hope that that conveys. Over the past few weeks I have been struck by the numbers of county employees who have commented to me that they are so pleased that I am now in the County Manager’s Office. It’s not about me – but about the perspective that they hope I have from the agency and departments of County Government, but even more important may be the example for advancement in the organization that I represent for them.
I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon. I wish you only the best in the fulfillment of your own career and leadership goals. Your graduation today represents a wonderful step on that journey.
From Terri Callahan, Director of Kansas Certified Public Manager ® Program
Dear Public Servants,
This is Public Service Recognition Week, and I want to thank you for your commitment to public service.
It is in the public service arena that we strive to make a difference and provide a better life for those we serve. We serve because service itself is at the heart of who we are, and we lead with hope and optimism because we believe in our mission and purpose regardless of the adversity that comes our way. We may never know the full impact of our service on lives and the communities we serve, but we continue to serve because we believe in public service. What would happen if the public did not have ___________ (fill in your career/position)?
There is a quote from Robert F. Kennedy (June 6, 1966) called Ripples of Hope. “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
The KU Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference was both empowering and enlightening. One part that especially resonated with me was the importance and power of building relationships in our career. Relationships matter, and those that you build through camaraderie, teamwork, or simply sharing a business card and a story can have reverberations to your work life you may never expect.
And speaking of camaraderie – there was plenty to be had at the Conference. One of my fellow tablemates confessed that she usually didn’t attend such conferences as she always felt a bit intimidated and too shy, so it was great to cheer her on as she was the spokes-person at the microphone for our group’s share-outs! I also loved how Kay Waldo Barnes told about constructing her own doctorate recently as an Independent Scholar – her speech was incredibly inspiring – and both she and Sandy Praeger put into perspective how far women have come.
The panel speakers were open and candid in sharing their challenges (or “hiccups” as Patty Hilderbrand called them) as well as successes. Their personal stories of how they dealt with challenges and built on successes were potent narratives that spoke to me in rich, informative ways. While there was so much great information, I had a few personal takeaways. “Enjoy the mystery” – one of the panelists spoke about how her career was not planned but reminded us to “say yes” to things. Another panelist spoke about the importance of not letting fear drive our decisions and another shared her formula for staying in balance by including, in addition to career goals: “faith, family, FUN and giving back to the community.” We were encouraged to “be courageous,” “ask for advice,” and “say yes with pleasure and no with compassion.”
But my favorite was the reminder to keep asking the question: ”How do I measure success?” This may not look like anyone else’s version, and that’s okay. We each have our own unique journey and sharing this journey with a lot of other truly inspirational women, made for one fabulous day.
Comments Delivered by David Hogue, Lawrence, Kansas Police Department At the Emerging Leaders Academy Graduation Ceremony on February 1, 2013
I’d like to say thank you to Chief Tarik Khatib and Captain Paul Fellers with the Lawrence Police Department for attending my graduation. My “thank you” isn’t just to get me brownie points with the bosses. ELA is a worthwhile experience and if any department heads, bosses, supervisors, whomever, are wondering if ELA is worth it… it is.
When Noel asked me to speak about my experience in ELA, my head was filled with numerous observations, lessons learned, and new insights. It was so hard to choose just one or two. As I thought about the knowledge I had gained from my experience, one theme began to develop. That theme for me was that no matter what you do, be intentional about it… have purpose.
Whether it was taking the StrengthsFinder or putting together a portfolio, if the exercise was to be effective, it had to be intentional. All of us had the materials to put together a portfolio but it was making an intentional effort to put all these things together that made it worthwhile. Leading from your strengths is okay, but I learned that I often lead from my strengths out of laziness. I need to be intentional about leading with my strengths and with purpose to be effective.
This past week I was on an oral board at work where employees were applying for new positions. Every applicant thought he or she was a hard worker. I think all of us think we are hard workers, but the people who stood out during the interview process were the ones who were intentional about the position for which they were applying. They didn’t take a shotgun approach hoping to get any position. They saw a position they wanted and purposely did things that made them the better applicant for the position.
We were given a lot of advice during our time in ELA. Something as simple as grow or bloom where you are planted still comes down to being intentional, being purposeful about the job you are doing. It isn’t about being content in the position and just doing it, but about doing it to the best of your ability. If we work hard at the opportunities given to us instead of focusing on not being where we think we should be, our intentional efforts will lead to other opportunities.
Our classes on ethics, values, and conflict were full of action verbs such as describe, discuss, compare, identify, address, build, develop, and bridge. Leadership is action. If you don’t act who will? We were asked to look at our 3-5 year goals and what might be the next step for us. I am still trying to get my sergeant legs underneath me and become comfortable in my new role, but I realize that if leadership is action, then I need to be intentional about what I am doing with an eye on what is next. I encourage everyone to not forget about the Professional Development Planning Worksheet that Noel gave us. One of the best ways to be intentional in our current roles is by asking questions, particularly the questions found on the worksheet.
Know your strengths and focus on optimizing them. Apply your strengths to more opportunities. Further strengthen your strengths versus shoring up weaknesses. Thank you.
The spring 2013 session of the Emerging Leaders Academy is now enrolling for classes in Lenexa, Topeka, and Wichita. Visit www.kupmc.org for information.
Comments Delivered by Rachel Gyore, University of Kansas Medical Center, Dykes Library At the Emerging Leaders Academy Graduation Ceremony on February 1, 2013
The Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA) has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. So, what makes ELA stand out from the many other courses and programs we’ve all taken?
First, there were our guest speakers – they shared with us their work experiences and approaches to addressing challenges, as well as their thoughts on professional development and lifelong learning. They showed us that there is a lot of value in connecting with people outside of our organizations.
Another aspect of the program that makes it unique are the group and table discussions we had during class. We were able to offer each other support, encouragement, and different ways to think about the challenges and opportunities we face in our lives.
Overall, I think there were three main themes throughout ELA: communication, connecting with others, and knowing oneself. ELA reminded us that we are not alone in navigating workplace challenges, and that people are resources – we can each be a resource for another person by sharing our experiences and ideas.
Perhaps the most valuable lesson of all came from an article Noel asked us to read both at the beginning and end of the program. The article is titled, “Take Ownership of Your Actions by Taking Responsibility.” The essence of the article is that the change we want to see in the world begins with ourselves – our attitudes, our actions, and our willingness to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, a community. So congratulations to my classmates who are now a part of the ELA alumni community!
And in closing, on behalf of my classmates, a special thanks to Noel, our program director, our guest speakers, and most importantly our employers and supervisors for giving us this opportunity. Thank you!
The spring 2013 session of the Emerging Leaders Academy is now enrolling for classes in Lenexa, Topeka, and Wichita. Visit www.kupmc.org for information.
By Katy Crow, City of Lenexa Community Engagement Coordinator
The City of Lenexa has created an easier way for residents to report everything from damaged road signs to potholes to improper signal timing to code requests, with the introduction of their new mobile app “Lenexa 311.” The system allows for real time status updates on requests and also allows citizens to view the status of requests sent by other residents.
The app, developed by Lenexa’s own staff, received the prestigious “ImpacT Award” from The Kansas City Business Journal in the client interface category. By developing the app in-house, rather than using an outside firm, service requests from citizens are directly transferred to an internal database – allowing for real time status updates. At this time, the app is available through the Apple iTunes store at www.itunes.com/apps/lenexa. Lenexa 311 will be available on other mobile devices next spring.
What are ways that other public organizations are using technology to engage with their communities? What tips about apps and/or tricks in common applications do you know of that can help technology work for us in our busy lives?
by Kent R. Austin, CPFO
City of University Park, Texas
Good leadership and good management require intolerance. Not intolerance for the ethnicity, culture, or race of others, but rather intolerance for mediocrity, unproductive behavior, and suboptimal performance.
Pain with a Purpose
Profound theories aside, management ultimately means the infliction of pain for a purpose. No manager wants to discipline, reprimand, or terminate a likable but underperforming employee. But continued tolerance of subpar performance becomes an organizational cancer that lowers the standards and effectiveness of an entire work unit.
Inner confidence in the manager is essential for confronting and correcting poor performance. Many times managers will be hesitant to correct employees because they know their own example is not what it should be. How can a manager punish a chronically late employee if the manager himself is often tardy? Punishment without credibility communicates hypocrisy and erodes trust.
Alternatively, the reduction of fear and self-doubt can unleash energy and a heightened sense of intolerance. The manager constantly asks, “why do I put up with this?” This unleashing of energy is captured artfully in the “Courage Wolf” Internet meme shown above.
Acceptance of Responsibility
The ability to manage takes another huge step forward when managers reject voluntary helplessness and resolve to take full ownership of everything within their domain. Managers acknowledge their “responsibility for the quality of work at the radio station,” as Billy Crystal’s boss says in the movie “City Slickers.” Confronting the Crystal character’s low performance, the boss steps in and temporarily takes over Crystal’s decision making authority. It required the infliction of pain, but it was the right thing to do.
The Power of Pushback
Constructive intolerance can also begin with one simple word: “pushback.” While the term is an informal synonym for ‘resistance,’ it suggests a more active, assertive response—physically pushing back on statements or actions that conflict with one’s desires.
Amazing things can happen when people reach the point of pushback and beyond. Much of history is the story of individuals deciding they will no longer tolerate oppressive conditions or behaviors, from the flight of the Israelites in Egypt to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights movement.
Punk Rock Primer
Even punk rock is instructive on this point. Punk grew directly out of the economic malaise and social unrest of mid-1970’s Britain, coupled with a vehement rejection of the perceived pretentiousness and consumerist nature of contemporary rock music. The punk spirit advocated a three chord, do-it-yourself approach that eschewed instrumental skill or elaborate production values in favor of full, free expression.
Leading the anarchic charge were the Sex Pistols, whose vulgar yet energetic pushback struck a nerve with a generation of young Britons similarly disaffected and despairing. Even though the BBC refused to air the Sex Pistols’ music, in 1977 their single “God Save the Queen” shot to the top of the charts—at the same time as Queen Elizabeth’s 25th anniversary jubilee celebration.
As jarring as the music was, the lyrics were even more shocking and despairing:
“God save the Queen/She ain’t no human being.
There’s no future/In England’s dreaming.
Don’t be told about what you want/Don’t be told about what you need.
There’s no future, no future, no future for you.”
Although the Sex Pistols imploded in 1978, they changed rock music and popular culture in ways still felt today. Their explosive pushback was horrifying and inspiring, depressing and liberating. While the nature of their expression has little in common with the life of a government finance officer, the energy released by the Sex Pistols’ pushback and their ability to initiate change are worth remembering.
Cultural reinforcers: Intolerance, Pushback and Willingness to Impose Change
Books: That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory, by John Eisenberg (2009); The Empowered Manager: Positive Political Skills at Work, by Peter Block (1991).
Movies: City Slickers (1992); A Bug’s Life (1998); Rocky (1976); Erin Brockovich (2000); District 9 (2009).
Music: “God Save the Queen,” the Sex Pistols (1977); “Fight the Power,” Public Enemy (1989); “Get Up, Stand Up,” Bob Marley and the Wailers (1973); “A Little Less Conversation,” Elvis Presley (1968).
Historical figures: Spartacus; St. Thomas More; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Rosa Parks
This is part 2 of Kent Austin’s article “How Indifference, Intolerance and Selfishness Make a Better Finance Officer” which will appear in GFOA’s Government Finance Review in February 2013. Find part 1 here and look for part 3 in the coming weeks. Kent is a 1988 graduate of the KU MPA program. He serves as the director of finance for the City of University Park, Texas and is the 2012-13 president of the Government Finance Officers Association of Texas.
By Michael Koss, reprinted from the Kansas Government Journal July 2012 issue
There was a poster hanging in my high school weight room that said “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” For me, the first part has always seemed to be the more difficult of the two. It’s sometimes hard to connect that first step with long-term goals, even if those goals are extremely important.
Local governments have to deal with motivation too. With so many employees performing so many different tasks, it can be hard to motivate all of them to contribute to one over-arching goal. One of the better solutions I’ve heard to this problem came from the City of Olathe.
Olathe used to have an employee incentives program that paid employees for finding ways to save the city money. If an employee came up with a strategy to deliver a service for less than the city currently spent providing that service, and the strategy could be easily implemented, that employee received 10% of the savings. By offering rewards to each individual, the City was able to motivate all employees to contribute toward its goal of decreasing expenses. Financial rewards work well because they motivate people with immediate pay-offs for their efforts. That’s why it’s not surprising some local governments are also starting to offer monetary rewards to non-employees to solve problems and improve conditions within the community.
Issues often arise in cities that require creativity and sophisticated solutions. In 2008, after Hurricane Ike devastated Texas’s coastline, the City of Houston, Texas organized a contest to pay for ideas that dealt with the massive amount of tree debris left by the storm. A group of faculty and students at Rice University won the $10,000 first-place prize
by proposing the debris be converted to biomass charcoal, a process that reduces greenhouse gases and creates a commodifiable fertilizer. The second and third place winners received $5,000 and $2,500 respectively, but the City also received hundreds of other free ideas, giving them an abundance of options on how to deal with the debris. With a price tag of $17,500, the useful ideas generated by the contest substantially outweighed the resources devoted to it.
While contests are great solutions to difficult municipal problems, they can also be used to attract residents and businesses. In the fall of 2011, the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offered $100,000 to the winner of their Experienced Dreamers contest, which invited individuals from across the country to relocate and expand their business in the city. After two rounds of judging, five entrants’ were presented to the public for an online vote. The winner was Tess Lojacono, the owner of Fine Arts Miracles, a self-started business that teaches fine art to residents of assisted living and nursing homes. The contest not only brought a new business, jobs, and community service to the city, but also attracted many new residents by giving national attention to the city’s high quality of life.
Chattanooga, Tennessee is taking a more hands-on approach to business creation with its public contest, offering their business accelerator and $300,000 in prizes and seed money to the group that comes up with the most viable business plan. Beginning this August, the finalists will face-off in a 14-week contest, and the City hopes their accelerator will develop Chattanooga’s newest start-up company.
While some cities demand tight control over their public contests, some are finding the best strategy is to donate under-utilized public resources to community foundations that manage the competitions. For example, in Birmingham, Alabama, the City donated a one block, city-owned surface parking lot to a community foundation, which supplied the prize money and solicited ideas for the space. After almost 3,000 people submitted more than 1,100 ideas, the City awarded $50,000 to the creator of the best idea, a multi-use facility devoted to entertainment and social engagement.
Although public contests can be large, ambitious endeavors, small-scale competitions can also be used to create great communities. Here in Kansas, the City of Stafford partners with the Kansas PRIDE Organization to put on a “best yard” contest. Each month, PRIDE judges the yards within the City, and each winner gets a $10.00 utility credit and a picture of their yard in the local courier. During the holidays, the City encourages residents to decorate for Christmas by offering the same utility credit to residents that have three or more strands of lights outside of their house. By making small investments in these public contests, Stafford’s city government helps create a beautiful community its citizens can be proud to be a part of.
The success of these public contests hasn’t been lost on national leaders. In March, 2010, the White House directed agencies to identify and carry out challenges, and asked them to address legal, regulatory, technical, and other barriers to the use of challenges and associated prizes. Shortly thereafter President Obama ordered the establishment of Challenge.gov, which “empowers the U.S. Government and the public to bring the best ideas and top talent to bear on our nation’s most pressing challenges,” (http://challenge.gov/about). The website creates forums for the public to post and vote for solutions to agency-identified issues. The top ideas receive monetary or non-monetary rewards only if the challenge is solved. The site isn’t just a great example of how cities can organize their own contests, but many of the challenges also deal with municipal issues, so local officials should consider participating.
City residents want to live in excellent communities, but sometimes they need a nudge to contribute to their betterment. These residents aren’t just customers, they’re also assets. By using public contests to tap into their collective knowledge and skills, cities can attract jobs, find cost effective solutions to difficult issues, and increase the overall quality of life within their communities.
Michael Koss a student in the KU MPA program and serves as the Membership Services Manager for the League of Kansas Municipalities. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (785) 354-9565.
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