Laying a Sound Leadership Foundation for the Future

Laying a Sound Leadership Foundation for the Future



Guest post from Essential Class of 2017 participant Patricia Hayes, reflecting on the October class day on Demographics and Growth. Patricia is the Chief Strategist and Consultant at PVH Consulting Group LLC.


When in information overwhelm, retreat. Or summarize in pithy statements.

We were certainly in information overload at our first Leadership Austin session for the BCE 2017! Even for those of us who stay buried in the minutiae of data and details there were moments that were like drinking water from a fire hydrant.  But we were committed to learning all that we needed to lay a strong foundation for the next seven months of intense conversations and discussions. So, no retreating allowed.  I instead took the 40,000-foot view of summarizing eight hours of information to the following six leadership principles:

  1. Be involved. As we prepare to engage at deeper levels throughout the community, it is crucial that we make fully informed decisions. There is a lot going on around us, and so easy to take the path of least resistance and believe the 30 second news blips.  Instead, we need to be involved and not rely on a billboard to make decisions that will impact our children’s lives for years to come.
  2. Be weird. Probably not found in a normal leadership list, but we live in Austin! We need to remember to live up to Austin’s unofficial motto and “be weird.” That is, to be innovative, be creative, to think outside the box and not be afraid to fail. As Mayor Adler stated, “What’s weird to some is home to others.”
  3. Be informed. It’s boring to most people, but the devil is in the details, and the details are in the data. If we want to be informed leaders who can use the power of persuasion, we can’t rely on bad data. As unpleasant as it sometimes is, we must review our history. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to our progressive image. To create a lighted path to the future, we must release the demons of our past.
  4. Be aware. Just because the sun is shining now does not mean that another storm isn’t brewing on the horizon. Whether the policy issue is water, economic development, education or transportation, they all have ebbs and flows to them. The trick is to respect and recognize the good times but not to become so relaxed that we let our guard down and are unprepared for the next crisis.
  5. Be powerful. Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun. But when it comes to energy, or any other policy issue, staying “powered up” is no laughing matter. Diverse sources and assets equate to vastly differing consequences and results. It’s a complex policy world out there. And if we are going to be fully engaged and respected, then we will need to acknowledge all real and potential resources that are available to us to achieve the level of impact that we dream about. The power we need to achieve these ambitious goals requires influence and finesse, not brute force or authoritative stances.
  6. Be authentic. This is a favorite leadership topic of mine. It is rich with possibilities for the person who is willing to risk the vulnerability that it requires. Authenticity and vulnerability wields more power as a leader than any title ever can.

    NOTE: The opinions of Leadership Austin alumni, faculty members, and guest bloggers are their own, and do not represent an official position of the organization.