Here’s what we think…

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“Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” –Simon Sinek
We’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately.
Cities, businesses, non-profits and the like rise and fall on the quality of leaders they are able to attract to the endeavor.
Management guru Jim Collins had it right in his seminal book “Good to Great”—you need to get the right people in the right seats on the bus.
We are in the midst of an historic presidential election and as a local newspaper we won’t weigh in on national issues unless of course there’s a local angle and or impact. But we know that our readers are thinking about politics these days both presidential and local.
Some of the water cooler conversation pertains to an appointment to the City Commission.
City Commissioners are set select a replacement for departing Vice Mayor Al Jacquet who is taking his talents to Tallahassee where he will serve as a state representative.
Because of the unique—and troubling dynamics on the city commission—the appointee has the potential to become the most powerful person in Delray because he or she may become the tiebreaker vote thanks to a 2-2 personality split on the commission. Of course, that dynamic will only last until March when that seat and another will be up for election.
We find it encouraging that there seems to be a greater interest in local politics than there has been in recent years—at least if you watch social media and get around town.
It’s encouraging because local government is important to the quality of our lives. It has a major impact on whether we have a successful and happy community or a city that struggles economically and socially.
Mayors and commissioners have a unique opportunity to foster progress—or stifle it.
While state legislatures are important—albeit somewhat remote at times from our daily lives- local government can quickly implement solutions or fail to do so. If you have a good idea on a Tuesday night and three commissioners buy in, you can actually see things begin to change Wednesday morning. That’s not how it works in Tallahassee or Washington D.C., which has perfected gridlock and dysfunction.
Local government is closest to its constituency and therefore it is easy to gauge its effectiveness, if we choose to be educated and get involved.
Toward that end, kudos to the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce for recently hosting a four week session on civic engagement; the course covered leadership, economic development, local history and the challenges and opportunities right here in Delray.
The class was urged to consider becoming involved in Delray—whether by volunteering, serving on a board, helping a non-profit or running for office.
Since a city’s “human capital” is its most prized asset this kind of effort is not only needed it’s long over do.
Historically, Delray has been a local beacon for civic involvement. Efforts have ranged from citizen academies and volunteering to community visioning and robust efforts to organize and strengthen neighborhoods.
That muscle is starting to atrophy with the absence of a vision, the cancellation of the town hall meeting under a past commission, the promised revival of the town hall concept (which morphed into a lecture series) and policymaking that often seems devoid of consultation with stakeholders and heavy on the personal preferences of elected officials and the desire to soothe critics—even if they are small in number and perhaps not representative of the broader community.
Hopefully, the city’s desire to update its Comprehensive Plan provides an opportunity for meaningful input from a broad range of stakeholders. That did not happen when the downtown codes were amended. Delray has a “planning gene” and a rich history of involvement and citizen passion. Wise elected officials tap into that knowledge and love of Delray; short-sighted ones bypass the “buy-in” phase and end up with flawed and unsustainable results.
There is a hunger in our city for stakeholders to be heard, consulted and engaged. It’s called servant leadership. And it is the best kind.