Leadership Case Responses: Patrick Rollens & Pam Antil

Posted on December 14, 2014

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ELGL is partnering with ICMA  to examine and think about a local government leadership case study.  We asked our members to review this case about the “post heroic leader,” and then share your ideas.

Here are responses from Patrick Rollens, the Social Media Coordinator for the Village of Oak Park, IL; and Pam Antil, the Assistant City Manager for San Jose, CA.


patrickPatrick Rollens

Patrick’s Response:  

“This drought is not just a challenge for today — it is the defining moment of this town’s generation.

How the town’s leadership chooses to respond will set the stage for decades to come.

I’m of the opinion that towns facing drought can’t realistically “come back” from the brink of water deprivation and return to the same practices that carried them through the 20th century.

There isn’t a similar example of a town in the USA that has faced drought, battled back, and now everyone is happily watering his or her lawn today in the year 2014. This drought is merely the first harbinger of what’s on the horizon over the next 40 or 50 years, as climate change takes hold in this town.

The best way for our fictional protagonist to face this challenge is to frame those hard decisions about irrigation, parks maintenance, conservation, etc, as sustainability choices. Use this as an opportunity to investigate new landscaping techniques with hardy, drought-resistant plants.

Are there any natural wetlands that have been drained over the years? Perhaps public dollars can be focused on their restoration. Pave a small portion of that golf course and turn it into an outdoor skate park, then seriously consider doing away with the rest of it. Various towns and cities are already paying residents to rip out their lawns.

Preserving a water-hungry golf course in a region where drought is encroaching is not a decision that your grandchildren will appreciate. It should prove easy to enlist allies to this cause. Sustainability advocates should be willing to speak at public forums and council meetings.

Engage student groups and parent-teacher organizations to build support at the dinner table. This will certainly be the biggest challenge our fictional protagonist has faced in his or her career.

Background on Patrick:


pamPam Antil

Pam’s Response:  

“Wow! You have actually identified more than one issue in your question about solving the drought problem in your community.

What I really hear in your letter when I boil it down to the sugar is anxiety about TAKING the leadership role on the drought vs. SOLVING the drought isssue (which BTW, many have tried to solve the drought problem and only Mother Nature can solve that bad boy — we can only address the water shortage part of the drought).

That being said,we will get to ideas about conserving water in a minute. Let’s talk about the leadership piece first. We face lots of big problems in local government and I can assure you that no one — even the extroverted managers — find them easy to solve.

Everyone has their own unique style and demeanor. Being an introvert doesn’t mean your ideas are of less value. You may just need to work on the DELIVERY of your ideas and solutions. There are many ways to do this to increase your success in the workplace.

Use your greatest strength as an introvert — calm, cool, directive delivery! Believe it or not, people appreciate a well thought out solution over an endless burst of ideas that sometimes go nowhere. Use your analytical abilities to determine best options.

And finally, use your team and capitalize on their strengths. If you aren’t the best public speaker, keep practicing. In the meantime, give others on your team a chance to present along with you. You will feel more secure AND you give your direct reports a chance to shine along side you. Double win!

Obviously, this all takes practice and work to become more self-confident in your abilities, but you get the gist. In the meantime, on the drought issue itself — don’t reinvent the wheel. Use your networks and contacts in communities that have dealt with or are dealing with long term droughts.

Resources can be found here:

  • http://www.bewaterwise.com/tips01.html
  • http://www.usga.org/Content.aspx?id=25918
  • https://www.phoenix.gov/waterservices/resourcesconservation

Keep your network alive and working all the time! That way when you need help, you won’t be shy about asking!

Background on Pam:

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