As I finish up my second and final term as a County Commissioner here in Imperial Polk County, I have learned a few things. One of which is how to deal with the public in a professional and respectful way, even when they come at you with both barrels.
During my first term, we heard a land use case where an owner wanted to increase the development density on a corner parcel he owned. He wanted to increase the density from four units per acre to eight units per acre. He had the opportunity to ask for twelve units per acre by right but only requested eight.
The commission heard the case from staff and the applicant and then held a public hearing for anyone who wanted to comment. We voted and the application for eight units per acre was approved.
The next day, a local reporter who covered our public hearing filed his report. Later that day, a friend whom I have known for probably 35-40 years sent me an email asking how I could approve such a change. He quoted to me a comment that the reporter had included in his article. I wrote back and said to him, “I understand your concern and that your only point of reference is one line in the article, but if you would like the benefit of the 15-20 hours of site inspections, staff reports, expert testimony and a public hearing that I possess, then I am happy to share it with you.” He wrote back rather sheepishly and said, “I’m sorry, you are right.” I told him no worries and of course, we continue to be friends.
Thus my title of this blog. Leaders and decision-makers usually have more information than their troops, employees and the folks we serve. It is good and healthy for them to question decisions but it is our responsibility to recognize this and be good at effectively communicating the information used to make those decisions. Quite often they band together to seem stronger but you as a leader have to be resolute in your decision and have the courage of your convictions. Make yourself knowledgeable about the subject matter and do your best to clearly articulate how and why you came to that conclusion. They will respect you more for being forthright with them.
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