What do you get when more than 2,500 people from across the world gather to discuss local government? A wealth of knowledge that can be used to make Marana an even better place to live and work.

The 98th Annual International City/County Management Association Convention held in Phoenix earlier this month gave attendees a unique chance to gain global perspective on community improvement. It’s remarkable how we face similar challenges and share the same opportunities for positive growth.

Town Manager Gilbert Davidson and I represented the Town and came back with a game plan. Some of the topics discussed during the conference – the importance of leadership within the organization and creating a culture of excellence – are subjects we recently began working on with The University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.

Leadership and the importance of striving for excellence were made clear during a conference keynote presentation by Jim Collins, author of the international best-seller, “Good to Great.” Released in 2001, the book details how successful companies strive to improve while others are content on staying the course, ensuring that they never reach their full potential and become great.

Collins’ message is applicable to local governments. In Marana, we strive for excellence and refuse to rely solely on tried-and-true methods. As Collins said during his presentation, just being “good” is settling for mediocrity.

One way we remain ahead of the game is by recognizing and growing leaders on our team. Being a leader has little to do with employee titles or positions. Leadership is about patience, humility and doing the right thing no matter the consequence, and I am confident that we have many leaders throughout our organization.

Many people who work for the Town are innovators who find ways to improve our organization. We need every bit of their expertise and skills as we continue to meet and overcome the inevitable challenges we face as a growing community.

Collins said being a leader is about keeping the organization’s priorities in mind. Doing so creates a culture of excellence and ensures that we strive for greatness in everything we do. We set our sights high in Marana and refuse to settle for second-best.

Gilbert and I spent one evening talking with our peers from Arizona and compared notes on what we do to encourage community development. Other town and city managers were especially interested in hearing about our Pavement Preservation Plan, My Marana mobile app and the unique ways we encourage citizen engagement. There was a mutual respect in the room, indicating we were headed in the right direction.

Another speaker, an ICMA member from the United Kingdom, said every community must identify people who will carry its legacy forward. With a strong group of leaders in our workforce and key regional partnerships, we will continue doing everything possible to improve the quality of life in Marana. We strive to be known as a community that wants to be not just “good,” but “great.”

(Editor’s Note: Del Post is the Town of Marana’s Deputy Manager.)

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