As I am approaching my last couple of weeks with the Town of Zebulon, I have been thinking back to what I have learned so far about management. How can one be an effective town, city, or county manager? What qualities does one need to have, or develop? What actions are demanded? And while I haven’t yet developed the answers to each of these questions, I have found common denominators that I think can be found in all of them.
Community and Team.
Your community needs to see you. They need to know who you are. You can’t be the king or queen of the town delivering rules to them as if they were your subjects. You have to be a townsperson. You have to be one of them, not just representatively but truthfully. If you’re going to manage a town, you must be a part of the town. And this means getting your face out there. It means being involved in community activities. Let them know who you are. Be real.
Your team, the directors that head your departments, needs to know you are right there with them. As a manager, it is okay to maintain your status but your team needs to be heard, valued, and united. And as all good leaders know, you have to understand the values of your followers. Yes, that was a Machiavelli reference – but a lot of his advice can be used for good, and he’s one of my favs. Just remember, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, you’re not a “Prince” but a democratic representative of the people. You received your title not by some sort of divine right, but through a board that decided you were the right man/woman for the job. And the board can giveth and taketh away.
I came into my internship with a decided mind. I was going to learn practical local government knowledge, and if Zebulon was where that was going to happen – I was also going to learn about the community. Without the latter, I feel as though I would have wasted part of my opportunity to work for this wonderful Town. I’m happy to report that I am learning, and I am taking these managerial points I have described above into my everyday routine.
I have tried, and will continue, to reach out and learn things about the community. I’ve been to a Mudcats game. PS: Lil’ Muddy is adorable. I observed a controlled burn by the Zebulon Fire Dept, where several members of the community were in attendance. After work, I get gas at the local Mobil on N. Arendell Street. I grab snacks at the Walgreens on Gannon Avenue. This week, I was even mistaken for a Walgreens employee! And I’ve eaten lunch at some of the locally owned restaurants such as Hillbillies.
I recommend the chicken salad sandwich combo, pretty tasty.