The Silver Lining Playbook: Ten Secrets to Successful Leadership
Part 9 of 10: Effective Communication
The single most important lesson I've ever learned in Leadership was first taught me by my father: "Learn how to talk to people. But first, learn how to listen."
In order to understand and motivate others, there is no more important function than to communicate effectively. In my professional career I have been a law clerk, writer, speaker, film maker, and college professor. I am, if nothing else, a professional Communicator.
In recent contacts with our city council members I have noticed that what starts out as a conversation quickly turns into a lecture and that our aldermen aren't really interested in what their constituents have to say. They're more concerned with airing their superior point of view, as if they know more about what goes on around town than the average citizen and therefore have a superior opinion as to how it should be handled. That the most important situations are not being handled-- or are being handled poorly-- is written off as "part of the process" followed by the attendant plea for patience.
I don't know about you, but I don't like an alderman asking for my input only to turn around and tell me defensively that my perceptions are wrong and that my concerns are baseless.
I think that part of their attitude comes from having been at their job for too long. After three, four, five terms in office, the public servant is more interested in serving themselves than the public. Our current administration is more concerned with maintaining control of government than control of crime and spending. This election is about Power and Money, not Public Service.
The total lack of transparency at city hall is another key indictment against the current regime. Most of what becomes public policy is decided behind closed doors in meetings that violate the sunshine laws and the only input council cares about is the result of arm twisting compliance with their dictates.
I'm tired of paying more taxes for less service. And I'm tired of being told that my opinion is of no importance. My representatives are not listening to me and I do not like what I hear from them. They have roundly failed at Secret #9, as taught to me by my father 45 years ago. Communication in the City of Savannah has all the clarity of smoke signals on a blustery day.