by Rob White
As the City moves forward on finding the next City Manager, there have been several other local and regional leadership positions facing transitions over the past few months.
These transitions include the CEO of the Davis Chamber, the CEO and a key economic development position at the Sacramento Metro Chamber, the CEO of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA), a key economic analyst at the Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization (SACTO) and the dean of the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis. Of course this is just a quick list and there are likely others I have not accounted for here.
My point is that with transitions in leadership come opportunities – some positive and some surely negative.
On the negative side, there is a loss of knowledge, experience and stability. The leader of any organization has likely established a certain culture and work environment that will be out of balance until new leadership is found.
But with the transitions comes new opportunities, and that is what I would like to focus on.
As the City Council searches for the next City Manager, they are most certainly weighing many factors. Regardless of what they decide, the City staff will have a new leader to indoctrinate into the “Davis way,” but the new manager will also have an opportunity to create a new set of paradigms and partnerships.
Many have their opinions about what Steve Pinkerton did (or didn’t do), but those points are mostly moot now. He has departed and leaves a legacy of his decision-making, but his actions and influence on current and future decisions is not material. We have an Interim City Manager and he is making daily decisions and assisting City Council in policy setting to the best of an interim’s ability.
But as we move forward and the City Council selects the next leader for the City staff, I would challenge all of us (staff and community) to use this as an opportunity to set new direction and strengthen or renew relationships. There will undoubtedly be the normal dissecting of their experience, ability and early pronouncements. And I have no doubt that the Vanguard community will look deeply into the selected individuals past.
I would premise that regardless of who is selected, we should rally around this new leader, amplifying their strengths and helping them become quickly acquainted to the Davis community. We might be best served to first assume that they will succeed as a leader in our community before we start to figure out all of the negatives that ‘might’ occur.
The hiring of the new CEO of the Davis Chamber is a great example of this concept. We all know that Kemble Pope did some great things for the Chamber and that there were some that criticized his actions. By all outward indications, his Board seemed happy with his leadership abilities and they created several new programs and are about to unveil their 2020 Prosperity Plan. So clearly, he left a positive mark on some parts of the organization.
With Matt Yancey coming on board, the community gets a business leader that has a strong economic development background and a proven track record with a regional chamber of commerce. We are lucky to have him and his skills as a collaborator will be needed for him to succeed in Davis.
With this new community leader, we also receive a chance for any less than optimal relationships to be renewed. We get a fresh start and an opportunity to create new linkages based on a new set of circumstances. Sure, Matt will meet with his own challenges, and may even have some relationships that just don’t work well. But this change gives us a clean, new slate and a chance to recalibrate (and in some cases, reconnect).
So my challenge to each of us is that as we see new leadership locally and regionally, let’s use this as a chance to recalibrate our community dialogue and create new (and better) connections that serve our community needs. Let’s assume the best of the new City Manager (no matter who it might be) and let them have a chance to prove their abilities and demonstrate the reason why the Council selected them.
Why not assume that we can have more opportunities from these changes… I think we might all be better served to approach our activities from a place of abundance versus scarcity. But that is another article entirely!
Thanks for reading and considering my ideas. Your thoughts are always welcome. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you choose to email me directly or you can follow me on Twitter @mrobertwhite.