Lead, follow, or get out of the way

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA Kansas City Office

The title of this article is a blunt definition of both leadership and management. Peter Drucker, in the forward to the Drucker Foundation's The Leader of the Future, sums up leadership: "The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers." "Management," as defined by Stephen R. Covey, "is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall."

The members of the APWA Leadership and Management Committee devote their attention to finding ways to provide beneficial information to "leaders" that will help their "followers" to grow in their professional development.

The Leadership and Management Committee has adopted the following Mission Statement: "The mission of this committee is to provide direction within APWA and motivate its membership to foster qualities of effective leadership and management within the professions responsible for development and administration of public works infrastructure. The committee proposes policy for APWA's board, motivates and plans educational and outreach activities within and beyond APWA, and undertakes other activities as appropriate to this broad mission."

Efforts to meet the goals of the mission statement during the past year have included:

  • Identifying and explaining fundamental principles such as asset management that provide meaningful and practical tools for public works leadership and management.
To enhance this goal, Andrew Lemer, committee member, authored a new APWA publication entitled Getting the Most Out of Your Infrastructure Assets. The book takes a look at instituting infrastructure asset management in public works departments and the asset management process as a whole. It's now available through the on-line catalog at
  • Identifying the core competencies and skills that characterize an effective public works administrator and encouraging their development within APWA's membership and the profession as a whole.
A survey asking respondents to rank the importance of many competencies believed to be of major importance for public works leaders to possess was conducted. Over 3,000 APWA members and 300 non-members were surveyed. A response of about 12 percent indicated both groups share a relatively clear and consistent opinion of what those competencies should be. More information on the survey will be coming throughout the coming year.

The Business Plan for 2002-2003 can be found on the APWA website at: It is provided for your information and with the hope that you will share your thoughts and ideas with the committee so that the positions of the general membership will be heard and available to help draft new directions for the work to proceed.

Members of this year's committee are as follows: John Davis, Chair, Tallahassee, FL; Andrew Lemer, Baltimore, MD; Steven Magnusen, Libertyville, IL; David Rhodes, Redmond, WA; Wayne Tanda, Los Angeles, CA; and Patty Hilderbrand, Kansas City, MO. Larry Lux serves as the At-Large Director for the Board of Directors and Ann Daniels provides staff support.

To reach Ann Daniels, call 1-800-848-APWA or send e-mail to