I'd like to have a plaque mounted to the oak trim of every city council member's cubicle with the business management phrase engraved, "Plan the Work…Work the Plan" in the hopes that council members would be reminded of their tasks as elected officials.
Back in 1952, voters expressed their disgust for the mayor-aldermanic form of government-which was wasteful, confusing, inefficient and slow to respond to community needs-in favor of the more efficient council-manager government (an issue we addressed two years ago). Leadership then was ineffective (as those who were around then will remember). Some would even say it was chaotic. Unfortunately, today's local political environment is hauntingly similar. As a reminder, the council/manager system leaves daily operational decisions up to the city manager, while the mayor and council establish policy and determine the budget, providing the city with its general direction.
But our council/manager form of government has gone awry. There's a negative cloud over the city-and it's centered at city hall. The rules of the "Damn and Destroy" game played by some council members these days are delay, defer, debate, then derail. Business and civic leaders are left crippled with almost all enthusiasm destroyed by the council manipulators. I fear the next generation of business and civic leaders are turning their heads away from Peoria's public fishbowl–and who could blame them?
Putting off the hard decisions, feigning short-term memory loss and creating special investigations into city administrator's activities is creating distractions and weakening the city administrators and mayor to the point of total ineffectiveness. To the negative minority, it means more control.
As business leaders (even casual observers), we must be concerned over the current administrative and political gridlock. If businesses ran their affairs like the city council is running the city, shareholders would take a no-confidence vote and throw the rascals out (at least some of them).
In business, the dictatorial approach of the command-and-control management style has been replaced with a teamwork approach–empowering and working with and through other people to achieve goals. In this case, the goals are the economic and social development of our community. It's time for city council members to give up their personal agendas and begin cooperating–working as a team–to make our community an attractive place to work and live. We need and deserve a reputation that will cause others to locate their businesses and their homes here. That reputation should be based on things like a comprehensive economic development plan so developers and businesses know the rules and can play by the rules. In other words, the council needs to "Plan the Work and Work the Plan."
There should be far less concern about public posturing–how they voted and how they're quoted–and much more attention paid to the business at hand. If they're able to do that they will become leaders as ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tse referred to them. He said "…as for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence…the next best, the people honor and praise…the next, the people fear…and the next, the people hate…when the best leader's work is done the people say 'we did it ourselves'!"
At this point, we'd settle for "next best." IBI