The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.

Influence can be a precarious thing. What can take years to build can be lost almost overnight. It happens every day to leaders, and often they’re the last to see it.

Watching Mayor Dawe’s sad performance at this Tuesday’s council meeting suggested that this is well underway. And confidence I had in the Mayor’s ability to lead, rather than manage was massively eroded at Tuesday’s meeting.

American pastor Andy Stanley sums up leadership as: “Leadership is a stewardship, it’s temporary, and you’re accountable.”

Accountability was at the root of a motion brought forth by Clr. Buck which I will include in full here:

WHEREAS Council was recently informed the Mayor cannot seek accounting from a Town department because of the perception of micro managing; and

WHEREAS a secondary title of the Office of Mayor is Chief Executive Officer; and

WHEREAS there is a need for a better public understanding of the function of the Mayor’s office.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED THAT a report be provided to Council from the Mayor indicating how accountability of the administration to the elected body is accomplished.

What should have been a rather straightforward discussion, not to mention a welcome opportunity by the Mayor to provide both clarity, increased communication and follow through, became needlessly personal.

You can watch it at the 74:00 mark on the Rogers footage here: http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=69&gid=119188

Mayor Dawe campaigned on a platform of professionalism and maturity, aspects that were absent on Tuesday in addressing this motion, which he does at the 90:46 mark on the video.

Richard Davis tackles the theme of maturity in leadership in a 2011 piece on the HarvardBusinessReview blog here:
http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/10/we-need-more-mature-leaders/ As Davis points out executive maturity takes time to accrue and it doesn’t always come with experience.

Over at Whiteboard Eric Brown speaks to the role accountability in leadership:

“Follow through is the most valuable asset to any leader. Great leaders ask questions, evaluate reality, and navigate toward specific solutions. Action implies taking responsibility for results. May we be reminded that our leadership decisions have consequences. The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.”

You can read more of Eric’s thoughts here: http://whiteboard.is/leadership-is-a-stewardship/

In a 2012 piece Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind see leadership as a conversation based on trust:

“Gaining trust.Where there is no trust, there can be no intimacy. For all practical purposes, the reverse is true as well. No one will dive into a heartfelt exchange of views with someone who seems to have a hidden agenda or a hostile manner, and any discussion that does unfold between two people will be rewarding and substantive only to the extent that each person can take the other at face value.”

You can read the entire piece here: http://hbr.org/2012/06/leadership-is-a-conversation/ar/1?awid=5725399499655597988-3271

I know that’s a lot of reading but Mayor Dawe brought his leadership library to council, all of 3 conspicuously unread looking books.

The following are a few more books for the Mayor to consider broadening his understanding of leadership.

First off would be: Compelling People by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut http://compellingpeople.com/
This book outlines key skills being:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Communications
  • Vision
  • Organizational skills
  • Machiavellian political skills
  • Contextual intelligence

Mayor Dawe has struggled with all six over his term of office. An overview of the book found in the Globe & Mail can be read here:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/careers-leadership/five-key-skills-leaders-need/article14000969/?_rob_utm_medium=twitter

Secondly, as the motion specificaly dealt with accountability, an aspect the Mayor failed to address I would suggest Charlene Li’s Open Leadership:
http://www.amazon.com/Open-Leadership-Social-Technology-Transform/dp/0470597267/ref=pd_sim_b_21

Li’s book points out although the traits of good leaders are universal, there are new skills and behaviors that open leaders must learn and master to be effective. In particular, open leaders must act as a catalyst to creating greater openness in organization, in ways that differ significantly from traditional leadership.

And lastly Shel Holtz and John C. Havens Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media to Maximize Value and Build their Brand:
http://www.amazon.com/Tactical-Transparency-International-Association-Communicators/dp/0470293705/ref=pd_sim_b_3

The authors show how organizations can evaluate their readiness for transparency, what they need to do to get ready, and how to effectively communicate their transparency strategy to their customers and employees. They also identify aspects of blog/new media “netiquette”—an important but often misunderstood part of engaging in transparency.

Perhaps the problem isn’t the amount of books on the Mayor’s shelf but a lack of context:

Mayor Dawe isn’t one who appears to embrace context, especially when it does not paint him in a favorable light.

Following the council meeting Mayor Dawe posted to twitter that he felt “embarrassed”:

His tweet only reinforces Clr. Buck’s claim that he is too sensitive by far for the office of mayor. I suspect this heightened level of sensitivity is in direct relation to the upcoming 2014 municipal election. The Mayor commented on that in the debate referring it to “Silly Season”.

For someone who seems preoccupied on being embarrassed by others as he seems more than capable of doing that to himself.

In contrast to Mayor Dawe’s take on leadership Facebook CEO Zuckerburg is quoted in this Fast Company article : http://www.fastcompany.com/1822794/boy-ceo-mark-zuckerbergs-two-smartest-projects-were-growing-facebook-and-growing

“So many businesses get worried about looking like they might make a mistake, they become afraid to take any risk. Companies are set up so that people judge each other on failure. I’m not going to get fired if we have a bad year. Or a bad five years. I don’t have to worry about making things look good if they’re not. I can actually set up the company to create value.”

The questions I’m left with are:

Where is the value that Mayor Dawe has created for Aurora under his leadership?

What risks has he taken?

What has really changed that otherwise wouldn’t have happened without his vision and execution?

Seth Godin claims that Managers make widgets, where Leaders make change. I see little evidence that Mayor Dawe has made the leap.

If he’s not willing to define his role when formally requested in council by 4 councilors then I guess it is safe to assume that accountability is nothing more to him than a word in a book.

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