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Leaders in the Shadows

Leaders in the Shadows: The Leadership Qualities of Municipal Chief Administrative Officers

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Leaders in the Shadows
    Book Description:

    In most municipalities across Canada, the top public servant is the chief administrative officer (CAO) or city manager. Compared to elected politicians such as the mayor and the council, the work of a CAO is often overlooked and not well understood. InLeaders in the Shadows, David Siegel brings the CAO into the limelight, examining the leadership qualities of effective municipal managers.

    Using the examples of five exceptional CAOs who have worked in municipalities of varying sizes across Canada, Siegel identifies the leadership traits, skills, and behaviours which have made them successful. Interweaving the stories of his subjects with insights drawn from leadership theory, Siegel offers an engrossing account of how CAOs must lead "up, down, and out" in order to succeed. Offering well-rounded accounts of the challenges and opportunities faced by public servants at the municipal level,Leaders in the Shadowsis a valuable resource for academics and practitioners alike.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1981-4
    Subjects: Management & Organizational Behavior, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)

    This fascinating book sheds a new light on public sector leadership, a topic we need to be talking about a lot more. Chief Administrative Officers – the peaks in the administrative hierarchy of most municipalities in Canada, large and small – are called upon today to go far beyond the vital tasks of orchestrating the planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting (the ageless POSDCORB activities that were itemized by Luther Gulick and Lyndall Urwick in the 1930s). Today, CAOs are leaders in their own right, called upon to model the noblest ethics of public service as they bring...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    Municipal chief administrative officers (CAOs)¹ are men and women in the shadows.² Indeed, in the trade there is a tacit understanding that a CAO whose name is in the media frequently is probably in some kind of trouble. In municipal administration, things that work well are invisible; the media take an interest only when things go wrong. Although usually invisible, municipal CAOs are important cogs in the machinery of government and, like Twain’s riverboat pilots, they must navigate some difficult and constantly changing waters.

    CAOs can make a mayor and council look exceptionally good (or bad). They can be a...

  6. 1 The Leadership Role of the Municipal Chief Administrative Officer
    (pp. 17-51)

    A great deal has been written about leadership.¹ However, very little has been written that specifically addresses the leadership role of chief administrative officers (CAOs) in municipalities. This book fills that lacuna by arguing that the municipal CAO occupies a unique position with regard to the leadership skills required of the incumbent.

    I begin this chapter by describing the differences between local government and parliamentary systems that prevent leadership lessons from flowing freely between the two types of entities. The second section reviews some of the relevant literature on leadership to identify what is expected of leaders in general. The...

  7. 2 The Leader-Generalist: Michael Fenn
    (pp. 52-78)

    “I was one of the most fortunate mayors in the province of Ontario.” Mayors and councillors like to think of themselves as important, strong, decisive people who make a real difference in their communities. In truth, intelligent, savvy politicians know they are only as good as the people around them. So it was not surprising to hear Walter Mulkewich refer to himself as one of the most fortunate mayors in Ontario because, when he became mayor of Burlington in 1991, he inherited Michael Fenn as the city’s chief administrative officer (CAO).

    Fenn began his professional career in the Ontario Ministry...

  8. 3 The Task-oriented Leader: Mike Garrett
    (pp. 79-115)

    In an era when obfuscation has become a form of high art, Mike Garrett stood in the witness box of the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry (the so-called MFP scandal), one of the largest in the City of Toronto’s history, and spoke a few clear words of simple truth. Even a decade later, virtually everyone who comments on Garrett’s approach to leadership remembers those words. Others who testified before the inquiry stooped to implicating their grandmother in their wrongdoing or conveniently forgot important facts, but Garrett did what a leader does: he accepted responsibility for what happened on his watch. The...

  9. 4 The Relationship-oriented Leader: Judy Rogers
    (pp. 116-154)

    Judy Rogers first learned about the importance of personal relationships and working through teams on playing fields and in classrooms in Kimberley, British Columbia, where she grew up. She further developed that knowledge early in her career when she worked for the YWCA in Vancouver. She carried these lessons with her throughout her working life, and they were a significant part of her management style.

    The two previous case studies focused on professional managers who moved around and plied their trade in a number of municipalities and at other levels of government. This case study tells the story of a...

  10. 5 The Leader as Partnership Builder: Keith Robicheau
    (pp. 155-195)

    “He wrote the book,” was how one councillor responded to a question about Keith Robicheau’s involvement in partnerships. Unlike the previous three CAOs discussed in this book, Robicheau has worked exclusively in relatively small municipalities. Large municipalities generally have the resources to do what they want to do by themselves. Smaller municipalities must learn to cooperate with neighbouring municipalities to provide services to their residents. Everywhere Robicheau has gone, he has put turf protection aside when cooperation and partnerships better served the needs of residents. This focus on partnerships is one of the hallmarks of his career.

    The three previous...

  11. 6 “I think I’m a better employee when I love the community I’m living in”: Robert Earl
    (pp. 196-232)

    Has your municipal ever organized a festival to celebrate the fact that your main street would be torn up for several months during the local merchants’ busiest season? If you live in Banff, Alberta, where Robert Earl is the town manager, then you saw this happen in 2007. By everyone’s account, the strategy did not exactly keep everything normal, but it did make the best of a difficult situation, and everyone describes it as memorable. The town won a number of awards for how it handled the communications around the situation.

    This is the second case study that focuses on...

  12. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 233-282)

    The study of leadership has attracted a great deal of attention from both academics and practitioners over the years. This has generated a rich literature, and several people have written excellent summaries of how the field has developed.¹ I prepared myself for writing this book by reading widely in that literature, but I deliberately avoided staking out an opinion about how my five cases would fit the literature until after they were complete. In retrospect, this was probably a good strategy because in truth the case studies did not fit any of the theories precisely, but spoke to many of...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 283-306)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 307-318)
  15. Index
    (pp. 319-324)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 325-326)