Talent City – Giving Power Away

By Andrew Butcher

Recently I was invited to serve as a Screening Committee member for the Talent City Initiative.  For folks who don’t know about it – Talent City is produced by The Pittsburgh Foundation and The University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics designed to bring objectivity, transparency, and rigorous hiring practices to build the best available Senior Leadership to lead the City of Pittsburgh.  The driving intention here is to elevate the standard and performance of Pittsburgh’s city government through updated and formal processes, modernized restructuring, and in – depth talent recruitment, screening and selection.

Simply put:  a great city for the people needs public agencies of great people.

This is not necessarily an indictment of current or past practices – but simply a recognition that positions of impact and influence in City government should attract the most competent and competitive human capital as possible.

As Pittsburgh finds itself being dubbed (in some circles) as the model of resilience, revitalization and other good “re’s” the true test will be how city agencies can unleash the full potential of their constituents, apply standards and best practices from around the world, work shoulder to shoulder with the wealth of non-profits and civic-minded businesses, and be willing to push past the “tipping point” into the domain of excellence in a new economy era.

Talent City is a bold leap in this regard.  Here we have a new Mayor at the apex of unabashed authority before any winnowing of political capital – actively relinquishing the trappings and mechanisms of traditional power structures  for key administrative positions.

Some call it crazy.  Some call it “giving the power away.”  I think this should not just be a mantel of the adminstration – but an ethos to define what it means to be innovative and effective in modern governance.  The job of a leader is to set vision and lead.  Putting in place talented, motivated, reliable and good spirited people to help achieve that vision is a necessary ingredient to be effective.

I happen to think that the more power we “give away” – the more power there is to harness and direct to do the things we only dream of.

At GTECH this is an approach we relate to with particular admiration as we finish a year having worked with and learned from over 35 community Ambassadors this year (See one example here in the new ReClaim South Initiative).  We no longer simply try to put creative, productive and inspiring ideas into motion – we now crave creating the spaces and platforms for others to put their own ideas into action.  While this reduces our “control” it has also unleashed a new form of energy with multiple communities.

It is this power that inspires and creates not just shared vision – but shared ownership of solutions.

Keep your eyes out for some fun new ways you can support Ambassadors in 2014.

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