This column has focused on many subjects that citizens might consider in thinking about a stronger and more resilient town. We’ve looked at effecting change, choosing the right measurements, strategic sizing, reshaping the budget, an independent internal town auditor, cost effectiveness, value engineering, leadership, and working together. And we’ve touched on controls and discipline, lessons from other places, town strengths and attractions, self-renewal and personal growth, what words matter most, and a path to getting opposing factions together.
Along the way we’ve also looked at some portraits of strength, a bullying lesson, a coach’s inspiration, a few project concerns, student ambassadors for the town, an improved prediction method, dancing at budget time, improving communication, a Connecticut recovery, and in so many different ways, how we can actually do better.
What then can we summarize for the road ahead? Specifically, what are the roles, responsibilities, and attributes of a leadership team that will guide us to financial stability; managed growth; a town setting and environment that attracts, appeals, protects, maintains and improves; and a place where citizen voices are heard and acknowledged, while their concerns are resolved and problems turned into solutions in open dialogue, without distortion, disrespect, or denial?
As Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote: “Let me count the ways.” So here’s what we might want from our town officials, board members, department heads, and committee appointees. They are in no particular order.
1) An analytical bent, comfortable with quantitative methods and expressions;
2) An ability to reduce data into useful trends, conclusions, and platforms for decision making;
3) A financial awareness that reveals future impacts of current obligations and commitments;
4) A respect for public opinion, in every flavor, and from every sector, the gift of listening;
5) A willingness to search for best policies and best practices, without regard to “not invented here;”
6) An adherence to ethical behavior and the right thing to do, regardless of pressures or influences;
7) A spirit of collaboration — with peers, participants, and the very best interests of those who actually pay the bills;
8) A communicative openness; a special skill for explaining decisions reached, supporting rationale, and key assumptions;
9) An interest in underlying processes; how they function; how they can be improved;
10) The personal courage to stand and articulate a position, no matter how unpopular, or divergent from that of colleagues;
11) An orientation toward constant improvement in all things, measurable results, and productive outcomes.
Of course there are others. And it’s unlikely to expect to find all these characteristics in any one person. As an esteemed professor once said: “The definition of one in an English billion is this — the probability of finding a blonde [person] with one blue eye and one brown eye, and a first-rate knowledge of statistics.”
Nevertheless, we should conduct the search for these traits with the same due diligence we expect from incumbent leaders. Then once identifying the truly qualified, campaign for them, vote for them, and support their efforts wholeheartedly.
Through your actual voting for people, plans, projects, and price tags, we can assure a beneficial future for Wilton and for ourselves.
TASC stands for Toward A Stronger Community. Information: