February 2018

Case Study: Santa Barbara County Department of Public Works

By Tom Magness

Summary of Client Business and Initial Contact:

I reached out to Mr. Scott McGolpin in March 2014 based on our previous relationship from my tenure as the Army Corps of Engineers Commander in Los Angeles. In that capacity, I had worked with the Department of Public Works (DPW) in general, and Mr. McGolpin in particular, on a number of high visibility projects and programs dating back to 2007. Mr. McGolpin heard about what we were doing from a colleague in the LA County Department of Public Works and thought we would be a good fit for his leadership team.

We initiated a 6-month senior leader Leadership Development Program (LDP) in September 2014. Participants in the program included Mr. McGolpin and the 20 senior leaders in the Department. During that time we included the Energize2Lead™ Assessment, Leader's Compass, 360 Assessments, and additional leadership topics. Participation in the program provided alignment within the senior leadership ranks and a common language. It also gave us a seat at the table on leadership issues within the Department. The nature of the relationship, and the topics we included in the program, allowed us to serve as trusted advisors to the Director and Senior DPW executives.

Subsequent to the 6-month program, we initiated a number of leadership programs within each tier of leaders in the Department. This was completed over several years for approximately 100 managers and front-line supervisors. In addition, roughly 12 senior managers recently (December 2017) completed the 3-day Leadership Excellence Course. While there were some minor differences in each program, all participants completed Energize2Lead, Leader's Compass / Personal Leadership Philosophy, and the 360 Assessment. Again, this provided a consistent foundation for all leaders in the Department.

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Mr. McGolpin sought to expand the use of the Energize2Lead (E2L) assessment to rank-and-file employees. As such, in June 2017, we conducted a group discussion on the "colors" and overall team dynamics for every employee as part of the Department's summer leadership conference. At that point, we had over 270 Department employees in the E2L database. The E2L color profile has been embraced throughout the Department and is now part of new employee onboarding, resulting in a key conversation with every new team member.

The Leadership Challenge:

DPW launched this training at an important time in the life of the Department. Already a large Department with 280+ employees and a $100M+ annual budget, DPW needs leaders at every level. Whether responding to floods, fires, or other emergencies, or dealing with the challenges of underfunded infrastructure and ongoing operations and maintenance, or staying ahead of the environmental mandates of the State of California, the Department needs leaders equipped with the tools and empowered to take ACTION.

The Director recognized that leadership was the key, perhaps now more than ever. In addition, as the senior leadership team increases in "seniority," there is a clear need to develop subordinate leaders and "grow the bench." As a result, these various leadership programs have been embraced at all levels and have clearly been a contributor to the Department's success in executing its mission.

The Solution: Leadership programs at all management tiers within the organization

While all the programs were different, in their totality the training provided a common language and a sturdy foundation from top to bottom.

In addition, the use of the Energize2Lead Profile for all Department employees has opened up conversations among all team members. This has helped with trust, transparency, and communication within all Divisions of the Organization.

Academy Leadership continues to be a resource to the Department. Because of the strength of our programs, we are a valued member of the team and, we believe, a trusted agent for the Director and the Department's senior leaders.

The Results:

Nearly 300 leaders, managers, and supervisors have completed "Academy Leadership" training programs since September 2014. Key elements of our programs like the E2L "colors" and the "Leader's Compass" are consistent tools across the Department. Participants continue to make reference to various elements of the training programs, some even 3+ years since completion. Our programs continue to be a foundation for the leadership team.

Most notable is the investment the Department has made in the E2L Profile. While we have larger clients, none come anywhere close to this Department's participation rate of approximately 100% with E2L. The "colors" are an accepted part of daily conversations across the Department.

"The Energize2Lead exercise has taught all of us how we like to be communicated with as individuals. More importantly though is how it has shown each of us how others like to be communicated with. Since we began this training we have seen increased communication between peers within the organization as well as up and down the chain of command. This communication has also been more effective and more honest than it has in the past. The end result is an organization which is more nimble and ready to respond on a moment's notice when our services are required."
Mr. Scott McGolpin, Department Director

Following the senior leader program, the Department created and continues to use the "Leadership Commitments" below to inspire and align the leadership team. They regularly revisit these commitment statements to ensure leaders are "walking the talk" and meeting their published standards. I have shared their "Leadership Commitments" with dozens of peer agencies to serve as a standard for others.