We all have or have had a favorite boss. It may have been a family friend, colleague, or a relative. You know, the one who empowered you to grow professionally and personally. He or she saw something in you that you may or may not have known about yourself. He or she stretched your leadership abilities and encouraged you to grow. Now, the burden is on us to “Pay it Forward” to the next generation of leaders…or even to other established leaders in our community, State, and Nation.
As Immediate Past President Paulette Hartman has said, during the current anti-government and anti-establishment political climate, it is imperative that we educate people about the value of local government and the council-manager form of government. Indeed, we live in interesting times. In the past, both TCMA and the International City/County Management Association have been active in defending the council-manager form of government in cities and counties when challenges to the Form of Government appear on the ballot. I propose to our membership that the best defense is a great offense. We need to find our own way to “Pay it Forward.”
This next year, I am challenging our Advocacy Committee to put forth a program to promote the council-manager form of government as well as the benefits of TCMA in general. We will be looking to enlist the assistance of marketing professionals to develop a public relations campaign complete with targeted emails and web-based advertising to educate our elected officials—local, State, and Federal—about the council-manager form of government and TCMA. Along with these efforts, TCMA will overhaul our web site to make it more mobile friendly along with providing a more robust directory; we will also re-imagine the web site theme as to promote the council-manager form of government and TCMA.
There are more ways you can begin to spread the message about the virtues of the council-manager form of government and “Pay it Forward” to current and future leaders:
- Develop a 10-second elevator speech about what it is we do for a living. One of my favorites is comparing our organization to a company. “Think of the City Manager as a President or CEO of the company. He or she is responsible to the Chair and Board of Directors which is our Mayor and City Council.”
- Adopt an elementary or middle school and meet with students. TCMA has a long-standing tradition of supporting this outreach through the Our Town, Texas curriculum which can be downloaded here: https://tcma.org/contents-our-town-texas/
- Be a speaker at your local civic club—Rotary, Lions, Optimist, or other group. Educate them about your job and what services your City provides.
- Go to lunch with the Student Council President or Vice President of a local university or high school and get to know the student. Look around our fellow City Managers and note just how many held this post in high school or college.
- Get a few local Managers together and engage students at a university career fair.
- Hold your regular TCMA Region meeting at a college or university and invite the MPA or Political Science students.
- Apprentice an Intern in your office—paid or unpaid.
- Take an up-and-coming employee to coffee. Same thing here, get to know someone and become their mentor or “best boss ever.”
- Speak with your local elected officials about their involvement in promoting good government and the Council-Manager Form. Steer them to the wealth of education opportunities that the Texas Municipal League and our local Council of Governments offer. Help grow them to become better leaders.
This is not an exhaustive list. I am also challenging our membership to seek out one opportunity this next year to educate people about what it is we do and become a mentor for just one person. Find your own way that you can make a difference, professionally or personally, in the life of that one person and begin to Pay it Forward.
Lastly, I want to thank Immediate Past President Paulette Hartman for her dedication to the organization over the past year. I also thank you for the opportunity to serve as the Texas City Management Association President for 2017-18. I look forward to seeing you at a conference or regional meeting over the coming year.