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Archive for February 2013

It’s been a privilege…

When great leaders retire, we all feel the loss, but we also consider ourselves privileged to have been part of the team. So when Tom MacDonald, Executive Director for the Local Government Management Association (LGMA) announced his retirement, there was a line up of privileged team members who wanted to share their stories in Exchange magazine as a way to show their appreciation for his leadership.

Capturing all the anecdotes and insights about Tom would take a book, which means the greatest challenge was selecting the nuggets that would best tell his story. What emerged for me was a picture of a humble, visionary leader who understands and values people, and has the ability to blend ingenuity with practical applications to move himself  and everyone around him from good to great. I’ve since learned that Tom is a big fan of the book, Good to Great, by Jim Collins, which is where he started to apply this approach in his own life. When his staff suggested this for the title of his story, it was a perfect fit.

The other underlying theme to every interview was friendship. Everyone he meets becomes a friend, and every friend treasures this connection. I’ve had the pleasure of  working with Tom on Exchange for the past few years, and I too enjoy the benefits of  his thoughtful and insightful advice, his leadership approach that allows me to take the lead in my areas of  expertise, and his friendship. Interacting with Tom has afforded me the opportunity to learn from an amazing leader. He motivates people and creates an environment where everyone maximizes their individual skills as well as their cohesive capabilities as a team. He is open to new ideas, and frankly encourages us to push boundaries and take a few risks. He sets clear goals, but provides flexibility in how they may be achieved.

Tom knows how to have fun and laugh at life’s ironies, but he also makes it okay to seethe with righteous anger and frustration when we witness injustice. He is a champion for local government employees, and an advocate for continuous improvement in the profession.

Tom is everything we talk about when describing exceptional leaders, and he will be missed around the office as he steps out into new adventures in his retirement. At the same time, because he’s a great leader, he has established an amazing team and the foundations for success that will provide for a smooth transition and future achievements with the incoming Executive Director.

Best wishes Tom. Thanks for everything.