Published: Nov 17, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Nov 17, 2012 06:26 PM
Last week at our monthly department directors meeting I announced my great book give-away. If any of the directors, or their employees, wanted a book from my office library, they were welcome encouraged to come and get it.
Browse among titles including Good to Great (Jim Collins) and The Courageous Messenger (Ryan-Oestreich-Orr). Take one or two with my blessing. Ive rescued a few personal favorites, like A Whole New Mind (Daniel Pink). Everything else is up for grabs. Anything left goes into the donation bin. Theyre not going home with me.
Im retiring from my senior management position in local government the end of this calendar year. During 25 years in public service Ive read innumerable books on management, performance improvement and leadership. Heres a small sampling: Leadership on the Line (Heifetz & Linsky), The Skilled Facilitator (Roger Schwarz), and 12: The Elements of Great Managing (Wagner & Harter).
You may wonder what sense it makes to give such titles away. Certainly these books are worth holding on to. How could I cast off such a rich well of knowledge?
I truly enjoy reading books and the learning they bring. Doubt not my dedication to the written word. Ive been faithful.
Ive participated in a mandatory reading group for department directors. Ive been behind two book reads involving department directors and community advocates. Im proud of founding a voluntary department director summer reading circle of books about how to manage staff, improve performance and be an effective leader.
Manage. Perform. Lead.
But Im done. Im unbundling. Im leaving the management, performance improvement, and leadership books behind. Ive found they all say essentially the same thing some more elegantly, some more urgently than others. Yet still the same.
I can sum it up in a single word: Care.
Care for something larger than yourself so strongly you persevere. Care for people so totally you make them feel bigger and better. Care for the immense, beyond-your-control things, because in the end they matter most. Its real simple, but not easy: Care.
Its an important concept. And to all of you, I beseech you to carry on. I bequeath you a treasure-trove of titles. Continue to frequent your local bookstore and Amazon.com for management, performance improvement and leadership books.
But dont look for me there. Im pointed down a different path. As I told a former commissioner when asked about my retirement: Free your mind and your soul and spirit will follow behind.
Ill keep right on reading, all right. Itll just be for the soul and spirit.
Ive never read The Once and Future King (T.H. White), and Ive taken on the task of reading through (this could be painful) the novels of William Faulkner. Ive got Thornton Wilders play Our Town in queue. And, theres always Jan Karon and Father Tim.
My list isnt short. I hope my retirement isnt either.
P.S: Before I close this chapter and begin a new book
does anyone want a slightly worn copy of Elaine Stirlings The Corporate Storyteller: A Writing Manual Style Guide for the Brave New Business Leader?
Gwendolyn Harvey is Orange County assistant county manager.