LaMonica Upton, graduate from the Emerging Leaders Academy, speaks on behalf of her Fall 2016 ELA class.
Comments Delivered by LaMonica Upton, Livable Neighborhoods Liason for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS,
On January 11th, 2017
Good afternoon and thank you all for joining us. THANK you to the University of Kansas Public Management Center for offering such a great program. To the supervisors, managers, Department heads who thought it was worthwhile to expose your teams to such a phenomenal program. Noel, I am so happy that it was YOU that lead us in this journey. Your spirit and passion are reflected in the work of the PMC and they are BLESSED to have you.
ELA friends, what an AMAZING journey we are completing today. We all travelled to this place via different vehicles. For some of us it was:
Our turn – our organizations have a simple selection process “Your up next”
Good for your career path – taking a leadership class was a part of your “Goals” or a directive from the powers that be.
This is what leaders do – I should take this class and it will look great on my resume
Kicking and Screaming – Why do I need to do this, I’m not a leader, this is a waste of my time
Horseshack Moment – “Oooh pick me, pick me”
The bottom line is that WE all ended up in the same place at the same time. Kismet, fate, destiny, coincidence, fluke, chance or one of my favorite words to use “Serendipity”.
Reflect on these things: We’ve learned a lot ~How will/can we use what we’ve learned? ~Will it make a difference? YES IT WILL!! If YOU use it!
As we move from this time and place to the next adventure in our professional and personal lives, Let’s strive to be Multipliers of professionalism, Unity, and Love and Diminishers of Mediocrity, Self-Doubt and Hate. Fulfill your dreams of your GREATEST.
Trust yourself “Who you are”, Embrace the fact that you have something to offer
Don’t let others design your life for you, be intentional in finding situations that play on your strengths.
It is not simply enough to be Present!!! Amy Cuddy says that “Presence emerges when we feel personally powerful, which allows us to be acutely attuned to our most sincere selves.” Our families, friends and communities need US to show up and when we do it gives others permission to SHINE!!!
Comments Delivered by EMS & Paramedic Training Captain Kevin Joles, Olathe Fire Department
Kevin Joles, graduate from the Kansas City CPM cohort, with PMC Director Laura Howard, University of Kansas Provost Neeli Bendapudi, and CPM Program Manager Terri Callahan.
On December 2, 2016
Luckily for all of you over the last week I have reduced my 1 hour talk to a shorter 45 minute yet meaningful lecture on why Terry, Noel, Laura and Jonathon as well as the entire Public Management Center faculty should be the getting awards for this great program and visiting with President Elect Trump about being his advisors over the next 4 years. They all did a great job for us and we thank you for that.
First off, on behalf of all the CPM graduates I want to thank the department heads, managers, and city officials that allowed and supported time away from the work week to allow for us to participate in these programs, again we thank you for the opportunity.
I also want to recognize the folks from the Law Enforcement Leadership Academy and all of the police officers in the CPM classes; it is great to have them here today. I would also like to acknowledge the fact that not only did the Kansas City Kansas Police Dept. lose a key figure in their organization but so did the LELA group here today with the passing of Captain Melton. I’m positive that the unfortunate loss of Captain Melton in the middle of your program, although difficult on all of you made you a stronger and tighter group because of it. We all know the state of our nation and the impact that it is taking on our law enforcement and not only from me but all of the CPM groups, we thank you for your service and daily dedication to all of us.
With the unwritten yet friendly rivalry of police and fire it is not often that a firefighter praises law enforcement, but today I do it for two reasons, they have our backs on every call that we go on day in and day out protecting us from the unimaginable and secondly because my wife has a lead foot and we have 1 hour and 15 minute drive back home and any professional courtesy I can get on the way home is greatly appreciated!
It is amazing how quickly a brotherhood and sisterhood can be formed through law enforcement or the fire service and become even stronger when you are adding a year-long program with hundreds of contact hours. It turns out that those relationships can be created with and without emergency services personnel. All of us are public servants in some fashion and that personality or attribute is what has brought us together so unexpectedly in a short time. I was personally fortunate to form many new friendships along this journey and it would not be possible if it wasn’t for the open arms of all of the CPM classes across Kansas. I did my Capstone project on hiring processes within fire departments and the fact that we spend approximately only 40 minutes interviewing candidates to essentially work with for a 30 year long commitment called a career. I may have to propose that all of our potential firefighter candidates participate in the CPM program with some of our veterans as part of the hiring process to really ensure we are getting the best, because as we know we have all learned a lot about each other personally and professionally this past year!
My work schedule forced me to be somewhat of a vagabond when it came to which class I attended and where. I was fortunate to get to visit the Hays class several times but never the Topeka. We of course had Topeka attendees at every site and vice versa and always welcome no matter where we needed to land each month. I have always believed in the power of networking and this program fosters that belief without it formally being in the curriculum. Who would fathom the lessons learned from employees of wastewater, city hall small business divisions and parks and rec and how relevant it was in the fire service. Certainly not me! The deep thoughts that come from opening your mind to another profession amazed me month after month and the knowledge I gained from all of you is what I will take forward with me.
We all know that there were days where we wish we could have shifted CPM a day or two forward or back because of our busy work schedules, but staying diligent in our commitment we are here today because of it. The strategies, tools, tactics and resources that were learned over the last year are invaluable and should not be taken for granted.
Over time we are given opportunities to make the next step in our careers. Although there was a year-long commitment to this program and it may have not felt like a “little opportunity” but much more like a giant one these are the things that can help propel a career forward to a place none of us ever thought of going.
If we take the advice of our instructors and classmates by seizing opportunities we can do nothing but succeed. Some of us may have never planned on being in a position to make a positive change in our organization but armed with the CPM program we can do just that. Thank you for listening, travel home safe and remember Officers, silver Ford Explorer….firefighter license plates. Godspeed and Rock Chalk!
By Michael Koss, reprinted from the Kansas Government Journal July 2012 issue
There was a poster hanging in my high school weight room that said “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” For me, the first part has always seemed to be the more difficult of the two. It’s sometimes hard to connect that first step with long-term goals, even if those goals are extremely important.
Local governments have to deal with motivation too. With so many employees performing so many different tasks, it can be hard to motivate all of them to contribute to one over-arching goal. One of the better solutions I’ve heard to this problem came from the City of Olathe.
Olathe used to have an employee incentives program that paid employees for finding ways to save the city money. If an employee came up with a strategy to deliver a service for less than the city currently spent providing that service, and the strategy could be easily implemented, that employee received 10% of the savings. By offering rewards to each individual, the City was able to motivate all employees to contribute toward its goal of decreasing expenses. Financial rewards work well because they motivate people with immediate pay-offs for their efforts. That’s why it’s not surprising some local governments are also starting to offer monetary rewards to non-employees to solve problems and improve conditions within the community.
Issues often arise in cities that require creativity and sophisticated solutions. In 2008, after Hurricane Ike devastated Texas’s coastline, the City of Houston, Texas organized a contest to pay for ideas that dealt with the massive amount of tree debris left by the storm. A group of faculty and students at Rice University won the $10,000 first-place prize
by proposing the debris be converted to biomass charcoal, a process that reduces greenhouse gases and creates a commodifiable fertilizer. The second and third place winners received $5,000 and $2,500 respectively, but the City also received hundreds of other free ideas, giving them an abundance of options on how to deal with the debris. With a price tag of $17,500, the useful ideas generated by the contest substantially outweighed the resources devoted to it.
While contests are great solutions to difficult municipal problems, they can also be used to attract residents and businesses. In the fall of 2011, the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offered $100,000 to the winner of their Experienced Dreamers contest, which invited individuals from across the country to relocate and expand their business in the city. After two rounds of judging, five entrants’ were presented to the public for an online vote. The winner was Tess Lojacono, the owner of Fine Arts Miracles, a self-started business that teaches fine art to residents of assisted living and nursing homes. The contest not only brought a new business, jobs, and community service to the city, but also attracted many new residents by giving national attention to the city’s high quality of life.
Chattanooga, Tennessee is taking a more hands-on approach to business creation with its public contest, offering their business accelerator and $300,000 in prizes and seed money to the group that comes up with the most viable business plan. Beginning this August, the finalists will face-off in a 14-week contest, and the City hopes their accelerator will develop Chattanooga’s newest start-up company.
While some cities demand tight control over their public contests, some are finding the best strategy is to donate under-utilized public resources to community foundations that manage the competitions. For example, in Birmingham, Alabama, the City donated a one block, city-owned surface parking lot to a community foundation, which supplied the prize money and solicited ideas for the space. After almost 3,000 people submitted more than 1,100 ideas, the City awarded $50,000 to the creator of the best idea, a multi-use facility devoted to entertainment and social engagement.
Although public contests can be large, ambitious endeavors, small-scale competitions can also be used to create great communities. Here in Kansas, the City of Stafford partners with the Kansas PRIDE Organization to put on a “best yard” contest. Each month, PRIDE judges the yards within the City, and each winner gets a $10.00 utility credit and a picture of their yard in the local courier. During the holidays, the City encourages residents to decorate for Christmas by offering the same utility credit to residents that have three or more strands of lights outside of their house. By making small investments in these public contests, Stafford’s city government helps create a beautiful community its citizens can be proud to be a part of.
The success of these public contests hasn’t been lost on national leaders. In March, 2010, the White House directed agencies to identify and carry out challenges, and asked them to address legal, regulatory, technical, and other barriers to the use of challenges and associated prizes. Shortly thereafter President Obama ordered the establishment of Challenge.gov, which “empowers the U.S. Government and the public to bring the best ideas and top talent to bear on our nation’s most pressing challenges,” (http://challenge.gov/about). The website creates forums for the public to post and vote for solutions to agency-identified issues. The top ideas receive monetary or non-monetary rewards only if the challenge is solved. The site isn’t just a great example of how cities can organize their own contests, but many of the challenges also deal with municipal issues, so local officials should consider participating.
City residents want to live in excellent communities, but sometimes they need a nudge to contribute to their betterment. These residents aren’t just customers, they’re also assets. By using public contests to tap into their collective knowledge and skills, cities can attract jobs, find cost effective solutions to difficult issues, and increase the overall quality of life within their communities.
Michael Koss a student in the KU MPA program and serves as the Membership Services Manager for the League of Kansas Municipalities. He can be reached at email@example.com or (785) 354-9565.
Teresa Schwab, LMSW, is an Instructor with the KU PMC. She is also a Trainer, Coach, and Facilitator. She partners with individuals, organizations, and communities that are interested in making progress on issues that matter. She lives in Lawrence with her husband and three young sons. Teresa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My husband and I grew up in a very small town in rural Western Kansas. The town has been slowly losing population for years, but after their school closed a few years ago, about all that remains now are a library, grocery store, one café/bar, and a post office.
This past weekend, we took our kids back there to spend Spring Break with their grandmothers who still live in the area. While we were there, we took a walk around town to share memories from our childhood. We started our walk through the alleys of downtown, which revealed something that we couldn’t have seen had we taken the sidewalk—almost all of the remaining buildings, emptied long ago of their businesses, were caving in. I felt overwhelmingly sad realizing that in the not too distant future each of these buildings, remembered so fondly from our childhoods, would be reduced to rubble.
What does our small town have to do with your personal brand? Basically, a brand is your identity, the way that you differentiate yourself from everyone else. In order to create your brand, any brand really, you must first understand who you ARE and who you want to BE in a way that it influences what you DO and subsequently, how others see you. Getting this kind of clarity gives you a blueprint for your future, informs the kind of tools you’ll need (skills, expertise, etc.), and allows you to make decisions about what kinds of materials you’d like to use (what you really need vs. what you can let go of).
Had our small community developed its identity consciously, perhaps defining that it wanted to always be a vibrant community, these buildings would never have been allowed to deteriorate and crumble. Taking the time now to build your personal brand will prevent you from climbing a career ladder, only to find years down the road that your ladder has been propped up against the wrong wall.
Here are a few steps to get you started building your own personal brand:
Step 1 Understand who you are, especially your strengths. Make a list of what you perceive to be your strengths, then add any feedback you’ve received over the years from supervisors, colleagues, friends, family, and even strangers. Pull out annual evaluations and/or any assessments you may have taken and re-read what they say about you. This step helps set the context for the next few steps. When you’ve got a pretty good combined list, you’re ready to move on.
Step 2 Define who you want to be and what impact you would like to have. Ask yourself, what difference do I see myself making in this world? By the end of my career, what impact would I like to have had? You may not completely know the answer to this yet, but you should feel okay about making a “best guess” based on where you are in your career path. For some people, this is an evolutionary process.
Step 3 Define what you want to be known for. Ask, what do I want people to see when they look at me? What do I want others to say about me to other people? Articulate the value that you uniquely offer to others. This step is important because this is the outward expression of your brand, i.e. what others see and experience as your unique value.
Step 4 Define for yourself why what you want to be and what you want to be known for are important. Values drive behavior, so make a list of values that are important to you. This step is important because it keeps you focused on the most important priorities when you meet the inevitable barriers along the way.
Step 5 Get clear about what you need to do and how you want to do it. It may be helpful to limit your timeframe to either the next 12 months, or perhaps a little longer, like 3 years. Ask yourself, what do I really want or need to do in this next year (or next 3 years) that will set me on a path to making the difference I ultimately want to make? What projects do I want to initiate or complete? What new relationships do I need to establish? What additional training do I need? Think not just about what you yourself would like to do, but also about what your organization or other stakeholders need or want you to do—you may not be able to control every project you take on, but you can certainly control how you carry it out.
One final note, just as a building built in the 1950’s needs to be updated and remodeled, it is important to understand that developing your personal brand is a process–you’ll need to revisit it periodically.
After you’ve had a chance to develop your personal brand, I would love to hear how you’re using it to move forward in your life and career!
The following is reposted from the blog The Inspired Teacher. She offers some insights about the challenges of listening and speaking–even when we mean well.
I went to a conference recently. The first speaker was from the state department of education and I was ready to listen; in fact, I did listen, but I could not follow her remarks. Why? I simply could not understand what she was saying.
In her first sentence, she used two unfamiliar acronyms. While I paused to decode the first one, I missed several words which followed. The second acronym was completely new to me, so when she said it, I could not understand it all. Thus, in spite of a wide vocabulary, I could not grasp the meaning of her sentence.
The same problem continued throughout her remarks. I spent more time wondering if I had decoded the acronyms than I did absorbing her advice and information. As you can imagine, I was annoyed and frustrated. But suddenly I saw it as a learning experience: I was feeling the same sensations that students feel when they don’t understand the vocabulary or references that I use in the classroom.
In a related incident, I was the speaker at a staff meeting. After I presented an involved list of steps for meeting the goals in the school improvement plan, one of the teachers said, “I would really appreciate a list, so I could keep track of all these things.”
“She already told us we would get one!” said one of his colleagues impatiently, at the very moment that I held up the checklists I was ready to hand out. I paused to talk about his knowledge gap.
“You know, Justin’s comment brings up a common issue,” I said. “He has been here, and he looked pretty attentive, but he still missed, or didn’t remember, that detail. Everyone misses things. It’s human to miss things. Whenever our attention wanders for just a second, we lose a detail or an idea. It’s important to remember that when we talk to the young people in our classes. They will have the same gaps and not because of bad intentions.”
In both cases it was as if the listener was looking at a scene through a window with stickers all over it. He/she missed meaning because parts of the whole picture were obscured by blockages, whether of understanding or attention.
Add these two issues together and you get what I call the Swiss Cheese Syndrome.
Listeners are highly likely to have holes—big and small—in their comprehension of our words, just as Swiss cheese is normally full of holes. We are wise to expect gaps and do what we can to fix them, rather than let the situation make us angry or discouraged.
What can we do?
First, be aware. We have to stop assuming that if we know a given word ourselves, then everyone knows it. We can plan in advance to include simple words in explanations and descriptions. Generally, the more syllables the word has, the more likely for it to be unknown to someone. In addition, content vocabulary and scientific words must be explicitly taught, and then reviewed and used–up to a dozen times for full comprehension by all students.
Second, check constantly. Ask for a student to restate a point. Be sure to call on those average learners, not just those whose hands are usually waving. It is too easy to assume that if one person in the class knows something, then the whole class knows it. Direct your learners to summarize for an “elbow partner.”
Have each student write a summary as a “ticket out the door.” The methods are numerous once we recognize the importance of using them.
Most of all, remember that when you feel like moaning “but I TOLD them that,” it is pretty likely that some of the students are thinking, “I never heard her say THAT.” Just take a deep breath, know that it is the Swiss Cheese Syndrome in action, and try again.
She replied that “the hard skills are the technical expertise you need to get the job done. The soft skills are really everything else — competencies that go from self-awareness to one’s attitude to managing one’s career to handling critics, not taking things personally, taking risks, getting along with people and many, many more.”
Basically, soft skills are those that enable you to put your technical skills productively to work.
Can you resolve a conflict with a co-worker about a work plan or about cubicle distractions? Can you sell the value of your approach to your boss and teammates? Can you write an email that gets the results you need? Can you challenge someone’s idea in a productive rather than destructive way?
Then celebrate and thank your soft skills. And as you mentally make note of everyone you work with whose lack of soft skills makes them unpleasant–or even unbearable–to work with, the pivotal role of soft skills in the workplace becomes very visible. Without the soft skills to support the technical abilities of a staff, projects simply don’t get very far. Even the US Department of Labor sees soft skills as “the competitive edge.”
This is a hugely important lesson that most of us have learned the hard way as we struggle to work with those who make everyone around them miserable. But having learned this lesson, make it work for you: make sure your hiring processes are designed to measure soft skills as well as hard skills.
Have you ever been struck by a sudden bolt of insight that rearranging what’s stored where in the kitchen cupboards would better serve the way you actually use the kitchen? So you get out the step stool and started to pull things down, which leads to the realization that the cupboards need to be cleaned.
There are two main options at this point: put stuff back where it was since this is a larger job than you thought, or embrace the process and forge ahead because you anticipate the improved outcome being worth the hassle.
Even for those of us who opt to forge ahead, we’ll still find ourselves having to adjust to things being in new places. No matter how much better the new system, one that we came up with on our own, will function, we still struggle to unlearn old habits.
So if change is this hard when it’s our own idea, is it any wonder that most of us resist change in our organizations when the change wasn’t of our making and where our input may not have been considered?
Keep this in mind when you’re working to implement a change in a process or structure. No matter how beneficial the new arrangement may be, you’re still asking folks to give up something their comfortable with. Even if the current process is something they complain about, your colleagues at least know how to work the process. This gives them an experience of competence.
Change means giving up some of that competence so it brings on insecurity. To help the people around you move past the resistance they may have to a change, acknowledge what they’re giving up and make sure they’ll have the tools and resources they’ll need to become competent in the new system.
And be patient. Even if the mixer is now in the cupboard directly in front of where you’re standing, you’re still likely to go try to retrieve if from it’s old, inconvenient location multiple times before the benefits of the new arrangement work their way into your muscle memory.
With the current transition in state government, there’s quite a bit of upheaval in some public agencies and a good bit of reorganization of structure and/or priorities and focus going on in others. Meanwhile, local governments and nonprofits are standing by to see what the year will bring for them, both in terms of state policy and tax revenues.
It’s a rather hectic time.
But it’s most certainly a moment of opportunity for news ways of addressing old challenges to emerge. We need new ideas, new designs and new ways of serving the people who are at the center of what we do. We need to get off the assembly line and once again become artisans.
“Perhaps we’re entering a new age of craftsmanship, one where we can see craft in the way a new business is devised, a sale is made or a website is coded. A craftsperson might be particularly talented and connected in the way she deals with clients, or be able to meet deadlines with alacrity.
“Just because it’s not in a crafts fair doesn’t mean it didn’t demand craft.”
What shifts for you if you think of your work as craft?
The first ASPA luncheon of the 2010-2011 series will feature speaker Tom Coyle, Planning and Development Director for Kansas City, Missouri. He’ll provide an update on current sustainable development activities in Kansas City, Missouri. Topics include the new development code, streamside protection, stormwater management, and other programs focused at promoting sustainable development.
Location: Hereford House Restaurant & Hollywood Room | 100 East 20th Street | KCMO 64108 Date & Time: Wednesday,August 25th, 2010 @ 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Cost: $20 Registrations: Please email with your lunch choice to email@example.com or visit us as www.aspaonline.org/ASPAKC/
About Tom Coyle: Mr. Coyle has been the Planning and Development Director for the City of Kansas City, Missouri since 2005. In this capacity, Tom oversees the coordination of all elements of private development within the City.
His background includes planning management in the states of California, Texas, Oregon, and Missouri. He has also served as a contractor for the Army on a base expansion at Fort Irwin, California. He holds degrees in public administration and city planning from San Diego State University. He is a member of the American Planning Association and the Urban Land Institute. He has attained certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Tom lives in the Northland and his daughter, Kelsey, is a sophomore at Park Hill High School. His hobbies include long distance running and coaching his daughter’s softball team.
It may be as easy as learning to say no to what you don’t love and don’t have to do. Of course, this requires recognizing which things we don’t actually have to do even though we might feel some twinges of guilt in letting them go.
For those who struggle with this (that is, most of us), blogger and simple living advocate Tammy Stobel offers some excellent guidance on how to decide what you can indeed say “no” to and how to do so gracefully. Click here to check out her advice.
Useful guidance? Any tips you’d offer that she leaves out?