Local Leadership Perspectives

Yesterday, nine others and I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with three city leaders about leadership.  Dialoguing with each of them individually for 30 minutes each, these are some of the leadership insights that surfaced:

City of Akron Mayor, Donald Plusquellic

Embrace Dissatisfaction: Mayor Plusquellic mentioned that he never stops looking around to see what needs improvement.  He consistently maneuvers through a “healthy discontent,” pinpointing key areas for needed development to better enhance the city.

Team Diversification: The mayor wants a healthy dissonance on his teams.  He desires conflict and opposing opinions as a part of the gritty, decision-making process, so he hand selects an “ideological diversified” group of people to work with.

President & CEO of FedEx Custom Critical, Virginia Albanese

Reward the Right Behaviors: Virginia is big on rewarding behavior that supports the culture and work style that they want within the organization (i.e. team, family, & community support).  When an employee fulfills their ideal image they are recognized and celebrated within the organization.

Constant Communication: In the midst of our hard economic times, communication to their workforce is essential to help ease tension and give hope.  Every week they present a very short, low-budget video cast to every workstation desktop reporting on the company’s current climate and forecast.

Open Communication: Virginia wants to create a family-feel among her staff, and to know that they are personally cared for from the top.  There is a Q&A box that any employee can drop a question in.  These questions are then given to Virginia through a video interview with her responses streamed to each employee.

Empathetic Leadership: Virginia’s goal with her staff is to fully employ their hourly work force.  To help the rest of her leadership team feel the need for this goal, she had them break down the numbers of what one of their ground-floor workers would make, feeling the monumental task of then navigating through expenses with their current take-home pay.

Strategic Cut Backs with Intentional Forward Steps: During our financial downturn they took two actions steps:  1) institute fiscal responsibility by cutting out the extras in regards to bonuses, certain staff positions, and unnecessary equipment;  2) yet still made key investments for the future in purchasing key, cutting edge equipment that will have then ready to run far beyond the competition when the economic downturn shifts.

University of Akron President, Dr. Luis Proenza

Shared Leadership: As there are many opinions on leadership styles, Dr. Proenza believes shared leadership is the best approach for almost any context a leader finds themselves within.  This process seeks to facilitate an entire community in establishing a shared vision.

Embrace Ideas: We are now in a world of ideas.  We can no longer steal the best people from one state to our state.  That does nothing for the overall economy.  We can’t find the best for what currently exists, but need to unleash and train our existing people to develop new ideas.  From these new ideas will come innovation, companies, jobs, and a greater economy.

Partnership vs. Competition: The future will be about partnerships.  The University of Akron is partnering with local schools, businesses, and the medial community to create a whole new biomedical field within the city of Akron using the university’s science and polymer expertise.


~ by Dave Smith on September 5, 2009.

One Response to “Local Leadership Perspectives”

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Dave. Printing and posting on the cube walls as I type.

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