South Fayette Manager Ryan Eggleston has returned from a summit titled “Reclaiming Public Leadership,” held Oct. 7-9 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.
Mr. Eggleston was one of two township managers chosen from the United States, as invited by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, Solace. Mr. Eggleston is a member of the International City/County Management Association from which attendees were drawn. Registration and hotel expenses were covered by the Society, and Mr. Eggleston obtained a scholarship from the Association of Pennsylvania Municipalities to pay for airfare and additional expenditures.
Mr. Eggleston acts as a US liaison to Solace from the international management association. ICMA strives to advance professional local government worldwide, its website says.
Summit attendance was international, and Mr. Eggleston spoke with managers from countries including Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
“It was really neat to enjoy fellowship with everyone,” said Mr. Eggleston. “It’s crazy how we are so different, and yet so much alike.” He observed that although they came from different corners of the globe, they often shared similar circumstances in managing small governments.
The three-day summit covered everything from digital innovation to ethics and accountability, he said. Mr. Eggleston noted some memorable speakers. Jean Tomlin served as director of human resources for London’s 2012 Olympics and Special Olympics, and inspired managers with her lecture.
“She reminded us that leaders need to have the courage to believe,” Mr. Eggleston said. “We need to embrace possibility.”
Award winning broadcaster, novelist and journalist, Gavin Esler, encouraged managers to understand the power of storytelling. Through narratives, leaders can educate, persuade and bring about change, he said.
Mr. Eggleston was most fascinated with “devolution,” the movement to decentralize government in the UK and give more powers to the nations that make up the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The transfer of such powers includes agriculture, education, environment, housing, social services, economic development and local government.
“It is proving to be challenging on the local government level,” said Mr. Eggleston. “For years, Parliament steered the ship and provided funding locally, and now they are giving up control to local government bodies. Now districts and councils are trying to figure out how to manage and cover costs.”
One program Mr. Eggleston plans to transport back to South Fayette, was inspired by an Australian speaker and manager who issued certificates of empowerment. On any given day, a staff member can step out their traditional role, and choose to make a positive difference in the life of a resident instead. They then receive a certificate of empowerment.
“It is nice to see a strong desire from folks worldwide who work locally to want to make a difference at a staff level,” Mr. Eggleston said.
Amy Philips-Haller, freelance writer; firstname.lastname@example.org.