I am a firm believer that being in the right place at the right time plays into how people become leaders or part of leadership teams. I also believe that people need to constantly work on personal and professional development strategies to prepare and position themselves for these leadership roles when they present themselves. Due to leadership changes in the athletic department at VCU, I have become the beneficiary of leadership change and have landed on a leadership team representing the City of Richmond…my community.
Recently I have been named to the Mayor’s eighteen person advisory committee, replacing the outgoing athletic director as the representative from Virginia Commonwealth University, as the City of Richmond enters into an eight year agreement to host the National Football League’s Washington Redskin football training camp starting in July 2013. The goal of the committee is to examine the team’s needs, current facilities, potential Richmond locations, financing, and possible partnerships that will help provide a successful experience for the Redskin players, administration, as well as the residents of Richmond region.
Of all the things that we are covering, the things that I have learned, and the people I have met as the committee works to narrow down potential sites for the camp, I find that the most interesting part of this process to be the constant power plays, influence peddling, and occasional emotional pleas that occurs throughout each meeting. Additionally, it is amazing to watch the behind-the-scenes politicking that happens in secrecy, displaying committee member’s personal agendas.
As I look at each committee member and analyze their background, current interests, and potential gains from any decision that is made it is not hard to imagine that a decision has already been made and that the committee process is merely a cover to give the impression that the decision is being made collectively by representatives of the community.
I cannot discuss the details of our meetings yet, but considering Bolman and Deal’s four framework approach to leadership, it is easy to see each of the four frames being represented purposefully throughout the process. However, with so many factors at play, especially as we watch politics play out, it is not unthinkable that this committee is purely symbolic in nature.
While I am grateful for being selected to represent VCU on this committee as I actively advocate for the best interest of our institution, I still wonder whether this exercise is just that…an exercise. We are a few weeks out from presenting our findings and “group decision” to the Mayor and it will be interesting to see how we arrive at this decision and if some of the secretive behind-the-scenes information comes out in our discussions or not.
Equally, it will be interesting to see if ”trust” is ultimately achieved between the committee members and City officials. Only time will tell if my suspicions are justified or not and, who knows, I might get surprised. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the ride with the committee as well as focus efforts on getting the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU involved with the logistics of bringing the camp to Richmond and executing a successful camp experience while they are here. Wait a minute…did I just give away a personal agenda?