Leadership: what is this for village managers?

Last issue we talked about ‘Customer Experience’.

In that discussion is the concept of village managers being leaders. We cover this deeply in our Village Manager Professional Development program but in general terms what does ‘leadership’ mean to you as a village manager?

Leadership means leading. In layman’s language that means getting things done that need to be done to achieve an overall positive outcome.

Delivering services, like good gardening and responsible budgets is not leadership. These are expected services.

Identifying a garden initiative that delivers a better experience or a saving to the budget so that new gardens can be built is leadership.

Here are two real-life examples. A village manager, walking the garden regularly, notices that four or five residents meet for a chat at the post boxes every afternoon and decides to invest in some benches there so that they can sit while they chat.

Another village manager walking the village identifies that a lemon tree planted 25 years ago in a corner was old and not serving any function; they discussed with residents what could be done to bring that location alive.

Neither action was expected by residents, but they demonstrated the village manager was invested in the best interests of the residents.

It wasn’t the money spent on the benches or the new landscaping, it was the fact the village manager walked the village with a purpose, to inspect the village and how it could be improved.

The unengaged manager just walks around; the leader tours the village with purpose.

The dividend is trust. Confidence will build in the leader such that when more difficult discussions are required, the sincerity will be established.

A tip: seasoned managers will walk the village at least once a month with the purpose of meeting at least three residents that they know they have to ‘catch up to’. Maybe it’s to check their health position, maybe it’s because the resident has been expressing concerns to others or perhaps, they simply haven’t been seen for a month or two.

Over 12 months that is 36 residents that will experience an unexpected ‘reach out’ and genuine interest in the person. More ‘trust’ in the bank, and more knowledge in the vault.

This knowledge will also bolster your leadership position with staff. This is the respect that reaffirms you as a leader. You have invested in knowing what is going on.

And all these simple things build the ‘customer experience’.

“I didn’t expect it. My manager understands how we live and was genuinely interested in making where we live better…without being asked. I feel we are in good hands”.

This sounds like great leadership to me.

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