Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My perspective on recent organizational changes

If you have read any of my three blogs to date you should have picked up on one overall theme within each, namely I support and encourage change. Let me be clear on this statement. I do not support change for the sake of change. I do support change however when the action or actions fix problems or clear roadblocks preventing us from moving forward in a positive and proactive manner.

So with that in mind, over the last few months we have been making some changes to the structure of this organization in selected areas. Rest assured the changes that have been made to date have not been made without careful thought and reflection. In every instance, consideration has been given to many, and I mean many, factors. Since I have been here, I have listened to the input from a wide range of perspectives and also been given access to reports and data from the past and present which has certainly been of great value in helping to identify and shape the changes that have been made thus far.

I don’t intend to go into the reasons behind every change in this blog. As you can appreciate, each change was recommended and supported for different reasons. It was encouraging to me that the majority of Council believed the recommended changes were a step in the direction of where this organization needs to move in the days ahead.

I am very positive about the changes underway. I see and feel the enthusiasm of those who are directly impacted. With these changes will come new opportunities for some and I have no doubt you will also soon see new approaches to our traditional ways of doing tasks or activities. This is all good and needed.

I am well aware there are risks and uncertainties associated with change. I am also well aware there are equally significant risks with maintaining the status quo. We are working our way through many of the changes at this time. There will be more changes to our organization structure as we progress through the implications of what has recently been announced.  We want the transition in all areas to be seamless from the perspective of our taxpayers and those we serve in the community. This will take some time and effort but given the caliber of people we have supporting our new direction I have no doubt we will get through this transition period very quickly.

I have received many positive comments about the path we are on from employees and residents. Thanks for your feedback. Feedback is always welcomed, positive or negative. I am well aware there are those who see things differently. I fully understand change is difficult for some. I also understand that various local media as well as some employees, council members and residents of the community have their own perspectives and / or agendas.

In this regard, let me simply say to my mind it is unfortunate the voices of the uninformed or the minority sometimes rise up over the supporters of change. These opinions are not at all positive for this community or supportive of your day to day efforts.

I know the vast majority of you are very proud to serve this city and that you take pride in your work and the services you provide to our taxpayers and our community. In this regard, I encourage you to keep a positive attitude and let the results of our combined efforts speak for themselves. Rest assured you have a large group of supporters, internal and external to this organization, who are 100% behind the momentum we are building. I call this group the silent majority.

I am occasionally asked the question…how much longer will you be here?  (You are not the only one asking!) The simple answer is until Council asks me to leave or until the CAO is hired, whichever comes first. I am willing to stay involved as long as desired or needed. The ultimate goal of the recruitment process is to identify and select the person who possesses the right chemistry and leadership skills to move the City of Kawartha Lakes to a higher level. Our taxpayers, our employees and our Council deserve no less.

Let me close this blog by simply saying thanks to each of you. You’re the reason I stay involved and committed.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

More thoughts from the Interim CAO

It is hard to believe another month has come and gone so quickly since my last update. I have now been here for 13 weeks and I committed to at least a monthly update so here goes.

I am not even sure where to start as it seems there is so many places I could go with comments or thoughts.

Let’s start with Federal politics. Personally speaking, let me simply say I am very pleased our country does not have to endure yet another election at the Federal level for at least the next 4-5 years. It is time we gave our elected officials a chance to run the country and be judged, one way or the other, by their record.

How about Provincial politics? This should be an interesting one from what I have been reading and hearing of late. One set of signs comes down and another new set will soon be evident on our landscape. The signs will no doubt come with promises of reform and better days ahead.

I think it is our human nature and of course our right to have an opinion or, at times, not agree with of those in political positions who lead our country. On a personal note, I have had the opportunity to travel in my career to many countries and many places over the years. I often was given assignments that took me to countries that are considered to be 3rd world. I consider myself very fortunate to have completed work assignments in place like Malaysia, Venezuela, Peru, Columbia, Mexico and Brazil to name just a few. Frankly, after seeing and experiencing life in these places I find it quite difficult to be sympathetic when I hear people complain about life in this country.

Let’s talk about change, again. As you know I have on occasion mentioned my support and encouragement of change. Let me be very clear on this point…I do encourage change and support the concept of change in all areas of both our work life and our personal life. I believe change is critical to our growth and development as individuals and as organizations. We need to be challenged to get out of our comfort zone from time to time. It has been said if you keep doing the same thing you will keep getting the same results. No kidding! I believe we owe it to ourselves, our organization and those who pay our salaries to embrace change and to look at doing things differently when there is a need or an opportunity.

Recently, a number of our employees, including many union leaders as well as Ric McGee and myself attended a leadership session designed to help each of us be better informed and inspired on how to better articulate and demonstrate the power of change through positive leadership. This was a great day and we have received many very positive comments from those who made the effort to attend this program.

The opening speaker was John C. Maxwell. He is an internationally respected leadership expert. He alone was worth the price of admission. John’s message was very straightforward. He believes leadership and the ability to influence others is a must for the person who wants to succeed in life. Your ability to have successful relationships or a successful job and your overall satisfaction with life will have something to do with your ability to influence others and yourself.

To my mind, every one of us is a leader regardless of position, marital status, age, sex, etc. John believes there are five levels of leadership. These are defined as follows:

Level 1. Position - This is the most basic level of leadership. You have a title and that's it. You will only be able to lead based on what that title enables you to lead with. Your authority only goes as far as the title and people will only follow you as far as your title allows. An example of this would be a first level manager in an organization. People that you are managing will do just enough to please you. You are only leading them in name and your leverage is only what authority has been given to you from above.

Level 2. Permission - This is when people begin to follow you because they want to. This is the true beginning of influence. You can begin to really grow as a person and organization when people follow you voluntarily.

Level 3. Production - People begin to produce and follow you because of what they see you doing for the organization. People like what you do and also contribute themselves.

Level 4. People Development - At this point in leadership, you have others follow you because of what you've done for them personally. You've poured into other people and they are growing in leadership themselves.

Level 5. Personhood - This is the pinnacle of leadership and occurs when people follow you based on who you are and what you represent or stand for. John Maxwell says that this level is reserved for people who have spent years growing others and their organization. Very few people make it to this level.

The reality is we are all most likely at different levels of leadership with different people. The challenge for each of us is to work to move up the step grid in these relationships understanding this takes time, effort and commitment.

So, my question to you is……What level would others put you at in terms of your leadership role with them?