A new hope (Part 1)

new hope


DUMAGUETE CITY – Congratulations to all the newly elected officers. Social media sites have been flooded by the winning candidates’ words of gratitude and promises of good governance. Here’s to putting those words into action.

I came across this toolkit of sorts for newly-elected officials in the US. While, of course, our political landscape is completely different, we can still glean practical points from this resource. Crafted by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the kit is intended to help both the newbies and experienced to “create excellence in local governance.” It essentially “provides an overview of roles, responsibilities, and relationships to help local elected officials navigate the opportunities and challenges of leading America’s hometowns.”

What I particularly like about this toolkit is how it gives premium to goal setting and policy making. While I concede that we have a long way to go where political maturity is concerned, I feel we can take baby steps to get where we should be. The first thing is to do away with off-the-cuff plans devoid of logic. For change to happen, we need those at the helm to craft policies based on practical solutions and sound judgment as products of good, old planning and teamwork.

For this week, allow me to focus on teamwork which ICMA’s toolkit devoted a chapter to. The toolkit asserts that “a successful team is more effective than its individual parts—creating synergy, stronger collective ideas, and a shared sense of accomplishment.” One good idea leads to a better idea. Even opposition can be used as a vehicle towards “productive discussion, an understanding of and respect for differences, and a better shared solution.”

ICMA identified seven ingredients of a team which our local councils can use to benchmark better team building in their respective areas:
• A well-defined and accepted mission
• Clear goals to which everyone is committed
• Energy and enthusiasm
• Commitment to work together
• Professional respect for one another
• A commitment to understanding each other’s perspectives and to resolving conflicts

ICMA, likewise, enumerated some of the ways elected officials can be obstacles to local leadership cohesion. This is important to note so leaders can honestly assess their willingness to be part of the team.
• Lack of commitment
• Misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about group processes and rules
• Destructive competition
• Poor communication
• Poor interpersonal skills
• Personal conflicts
• External pressures and/or new demands that stretch the team’s capacity
• Political grandstanding
• Unwillingness to see/consider different perspectives or to compromise
• Representation of only one perspective or one group regardless of the issue.

Lack of teamwork can lead to disastrous situations including public embarrassment, delays, long meetings without results, and lost opportunities for the community.

Part 2 of this series will talk about how to effectively build teamwork and will also focus on crafting goals and policies. Until then!