#NCLGBA19 Recap Series: Leadership on Display

Over the last few weeks, we have been featuring reflections on the 2019 Summer Conference.

Our final #NCLGBA19 Conference Recap comes from Ross Hatton, 2019 Summer Conference Scholarship Recipient, UNC-Chapel Hill Master of Public Administration Candidate, and Budget and Management Services Intern, Wake County.

When I first applied for the NCLGBA conference scholarship, I had no expectation that I would be lucky enough to receive it. I am deeply thankful to the NCLGBA for giving me the opportunity to learn from its passionate, creative, and talented members who are constantly striving to serve and improve each of their communities.

As I sat down to write this recap, I ran into the problem of having too many sessions to choose from. Whether it was Brandon Juhaish’s Budget Monitoring Report – The Future is the Past, Rebecca Jackson’s Creating a High Performance Culture – Engaged Employees Transforming Communities, or one of the many other engaging panels and sessions, I was impressed by the knowledge and ingenuity of the conference’s many presenters and attendees. However, I found myself particularly struck by Professor Rick Morse’s Lead from Where You Are by Encouraging the Heart, given the many ways in which I saw leadership during the conference.

His session, nestled in the middle of the conference, was an earnest discussion of what it means to be a leader and a necessary reminder that leadership is “everybody’s business”. I have heard many times how management and leadership are fundamentally different concepts, but I have also often felt that these differences can be difficult to communicate and conceptualize. Professor Morse helped remedy this by offering the following five key behaviors of leaders:

  • Model the way
  • Inspire the vision
  • Challenge the process
  • Enable others to act
  • Encourage the heart

As someone in the early stages of his public service career, I am grateful for this reminder that leadership is an opportunity for all of us, regardless of position or experience. I have been lucky to witness empowering and innovative leadership in both my public service experience and at the conference, which has raised the bar for how I aspire to serve my community. It became clear to me, through the Past President Panel: The Bat-Signal has been answered! in particular, that the NCLGBA cares deeply about creating what Professor Morse called a “spirit of community” by celebrating successes, sharing stories, and forging connections.

As Professor Morse concluded his session, he left each of us with a blank letter and encouraged us to take the time to thank someone. We work in a time of unparalleled access to information and data, which often requires us to move quickly in order to be responsive to changing needs or priorities. In light of this, it can be easy to forget to slow down and recognize the people around us for their support, mentorship, and leadership. I appreciated this discussion of leadership and the importance of not forgetting to recognize the people who support us.

I was absolutely thrilled by my first time at the NCLGBA conference. From hearing how other people think about common problems to seeing the novel policies and practices being put into place in other jurisdictions, I was blown away by the activities and leadership of the NCLGBA membership. I look forward to continuing to learn from this community, and I hope to be a part of fostering its growth in the future.