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Thread: Texas local government jobs and emphasis on "leadership"

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Texas local government jobs and emphasis on "leadership"

    Granted, this comes from a fairly limited sample size, so I may be off here.

    About 14 months ago, after I was told I was one of the lead candidates for a PD job for a suburb of Dallas, I was asked to complete a questionnaire. However, none of the questions were related to planning; the majority dealt with "leadership" in some way.

    In the three-day interview process (!) for my most recent gig, in a suburb of Austin, again there was an emphasis on "leadership" that I never encountered in other interviews. What's my leadership experience? What's my leadership philosophy? Have I had formal leadership training? How am I a good leader? How will I be a good leader? Over and over again, I was questioned about my leadership philosophy.

    So, is this emphasis on "leadership" for local government jobs in Texas something that is a peculiarity of the state's culture? Any else encounter it?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    So, is this emphasis on "leadership" for local government jobs in Texas something that is a peculiarity of the state's culture? Any else encounter it?
    No idea...but two thoughts:

    1. Planning departments in TX get beat down/discouraged/cynical-ized moreso than in other states so the director needs to show leadership, direction, and encouragement.

    2. Cities in TX want planning departments kept in line with the City's politics and need a director that can ensure that.



    Whether or not either of those is true, in my experience and opinion, the Texan PD's most important job is to argue good planning decisions to the multitude of transient councils, commissions, and boards. Is that "leadership"? Maybe.

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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I have seen the emphasis on leadership/management style for years. Nothing new from my perspective. If you want to get into management and the big bucks, consider some training. One downside is that you often do not know what the management team is looking for in an applicant. Another downer is whewe being a team player is more important than credentials. I know of a community that is placing an emphasis on "character traits" and "values." Good luck with that one.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by FueledByRamen View post
    ...the Texan PD's most important job is to argue good planning decisions to the multitude of transient councils, commissions, and boards.
    Don't forget transient city staff, which often includes city management.

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    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    .....So, is this emphasis on "leadership" for local government jobs in Texas something that is a peculiarity of the state's culture? Any else encounter it?
    This is nothing new to me. In my last position as a dept head in California and my current position in Florida, both administrations place a high priority on leadership and provide frequent training sessions to implement the strategy.
    Habitual Offender

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    Research question

    I am writing a research theory paper on the subject of planning and leadership, and I am going to quote a few lines from this thread. Can any of you respond with your current positions and years of experience in the planning profession please? Specifically Dan, Mike Gurnee, or Richmond Jake?

    Thank you.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    This is nothing new to me. In my last position as a dept head in California and my current position in Florida, both administrations place a high priority on leadership and provide frequent training sessions to implement the strategy.
    There is not much real leadership out there. Focusing on it means you might actually find someone with those qualities.

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    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    I'll concur that the emphasis I've seen is more on character traits and leadership style and less on technical qualifications. It may have to do with there being so many technically qualified applicants for jobs in Texas. To sort through them, employers look for personality matches, leadership style, etc. And some cities seem to want more leaders within their staff, so the departure of one person doesn't leave a huge leadership gap.

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