Gary Sasse: Focusing on Effective State Leadership
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
A unique opportunity
Rhode Island is at an economic crossroads and as President Abraham Lincoln observed: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.” However, our major obstacles are not financial and economic, though those are critical matters, but rather the lack of what the people believe is state leadership that has the political will to connect the dots.
The 2014 election can be a watershed event for the state. Its outcome may go a long way to determine how we address the challenges of chronically high unemployment, transformational demographic changes, underperforming schools with a resultant jobs-skills mismatch, an aging infrastructure, a decade of fiscal stress and deep-rooted self doubts.
As Jim Collins observed in his classic work Good to Great, “Leadership begins with getting people to confront the brutal facts and to act on the implications.” Effective elected officials are in a unique position to mobilize the skills and energy of all Rhode Islanders to address the complex and difficult issues facing the state. Their leadership is essential for motivating diverse interests to work together for the common good. Effective leaders are essential to shape the future and make things happen.
President Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he observed the following: “The leader must understand that he leads us, that he guides us, by convincing us so that we will follow him or follow his direction.“
A lack of confidence
A recent public opinion poll conducted by Fleming Associates as part of the Job One: Leadership initiative found that Rhode Islanders lacked confidence in the effectiveness of state leaders. Just two percent questioned in the Fleming poll rated their performance as excellent and 14 percent graded it as good. Conversely, four out of five persons polled rated the effectiveness of state leaders as either fair or poor. The greatest number of those polled, 43 percent said their governing effectiveness was poor.
The poll also asked respondents to evaluate the performance of elected state officials in the areas of problem solving, communications, integrity, fiscal management responsiveness, accessibility, leading people and conflict management. The highest excellent/good rating for any activity was 27 percent. The fair/poor ratings went as high as 85 percent.
According to the Fleming poll the picture was not as negative for locally elected officials. Forty-five percent of those polled said that locally elected official were effective. This result differs dramatically from opinion about the effectiveness of state leaders. A future column will delve deeper into attitudes toward city, town and school elected officials.
The Job One: Leadership-sponsored poll also asked voters what they considered most important in selecting state leaders. Thirty–seven percent said it was integrity, followed by fiscal management, 25 percent, and problem solving 18 percent. In the words of President Eisenhower: “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity.”
Throughout the election cycle Job One: Leadership will continue to keep the focus on the characteristics and abilities of effective potential leaders.
Candidates for Governor will be asked to answer specific questions on the topic of leadership and those answers will be made available for voter consideration in both text and video formats.
A “Voters Guide for Effective Leadership “ will be provided voters to help them consider the leadership skills of candidates on the central leadership issues of problem solving, fiscal management, communication, responsiveness, conflict management, accessibility and integrity.
Job One: Leadership will convene a public discussion on what it means to be an effective leader.
Gary Sasse is Founding Director of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University. He is the former Executive Director Rhode Island Public Expenditure and Director of the Departments of Administration and Revenue.
Related Slideshow: PAC Spending in the 2014 Rhode Island Governor’s Race
With Election Day now just months away, GoLocal took a look at PAC spending in the Rhode Island gubernatorial campaigns.
Who is giving to who -- and how much? And what's worth more, the money or the grassroots support?
Below is look at recorded PAC giving by the candidates in their campaign finance reports for the 2013 calendar year, by quarter. Candidate Todd Giroux has an affadavit for an annual filing exemption.
Gina Raimondo - Q1 2013
PAC money received: $7,000
Gina Raimondo - Q2 2013
PAC money received: $4,400
Gina Raimondo - Q4 2013
PAC money received: $6,950
Angel Taveras - Q1 2013
PAC money received: $3,600
Angel Taveras - Q2 2013
PAC money received: $6,550
Angel Taveras - Q4 2013
PAC money received: $6,100
Allan Fung -- Q1 2013
PAC money received: $1,550*
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