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I'd like to welcome everybody to today's podcast. And we're excited about the topic and our guests. My name is Bill Stark with LeaderGov. No matter if you work for a city or a county or even some agency, perhaps a tax commissioner's office or water authority. But we're glad you're here. We're glad you're with us. And we love giving back to local government leaders through this podcast. Today, we have a wonderful topic called how your personality affects your leadership. And with us today is Adam Ruechel. And he is the city manager of Platteville, Wisconsin. And Adam, how are you doing today? Sir?
I'm doing great building for having me.
Yeah, that's awesome. Nice to see you nice to hear your voice. Really appreciate your taking a few minutes and sharing a bit about yourself, and how you lead your teams or continuing to learn how to lead your teams, particularly through this lens of personality. You know, before we jump into the topic, and kind of dig into it, would you mind just sharing briefly, you know what your role is there in Platteville, I know that you're relatively new in that role, maybe some of the adjustments you've had to make with this unique year that we've just had. And then also tell us about some of your previous government work, if you don't mind?
Yeah, certainly. So I appreciate that kind of brief intro, and I'll kind of go over where I'm at here. So I have been the city manager here for the city of Platteville, since January 6 of 2020. So like you said, it's been a definitely a challenging year, with everything going on. But when I would say that certainly has been rewarding. So you know, primarily as the city manager here in Platteville. So I'm responsible for kind of the the day to day operations of the city as a whole. So that's working, you know, overseeing our police department, our fire department, our clerk, female clerks, and administration offices. So that's finance, you know, Park and Recreation. And then obviously, our various kind of economic development entities that we have. So our community development, we have a couple of different kind of grassroots organizations, we have a Industrial Park committee that kind of works specifically on our industrial park, we have a main street group that is very, very organized in the city that does a lot for our downtown businesses. And then obviously, all the utilities and Public Works areas, so work with our streets, departments. And so yeah, I think it's definitely been a very rewarding year, but challenging one, because typically, when you come in, I think anybody who comes in as a new manager, you usually like to have the ability to be able to really kind of dive into the community and meet a lot of the business people, the residents, and even the employees and kind of get to know, you know, okay, let's do kind of the bare bones work of you know, what's worked well, previously, What didn't you like about the last, you know, Manager administrator that you'd like to see changed. And that's really has not been able to happen under kind of a COVID-19 lens, just because of a lot of the safety precautions that have taken into a place and just that, you know, we've all gotten used to zoom but you lose that that inner you know, that personal connection, I think it gets lost sometimes where you don't have the ability to sit down, you know, shake that person's hands and really get that feel of you know, that person is invested in the community. So that's something that you know, that I'm hopeful as we continue to look at ways of pivoting and trying to find out, you know, you know, we've done a lot of different things with how do we market our, you know, library to technically it's not open, but how can people still utilize it? Same thing with our park and rec and your activities is how do we, you know, position to do different things that still have an impact and the benefits to our, to our community. So those are all things, you know, we're hopeful that as we continue, you know, we're able to get back to everybody's looking for that what was normal or normal normalcy. And I don't know if we're ever going to get there, but our hope is to start to see some of those, you know, Silver Linings or, or shining lights at the end of the tunnel that allow us to kind of look at some of those things that we used to be able to do, as far as some of my previous work. So before, so platinum was about almost 12 to 13,000 residents. Previously, I was working as the village administrator for the village of Marshall, which was about a 4000 population and was a suburb of Madison. So there were some unique kind of interesting challenges there in you know, the number one question I would always get when I was there as well whereas Marshall, nobody knew where it was, unless you live there. So there were some you know, unique marketing opportunities that we took and doing some things that you know, one of the things obviously in smaller towns is you have a lot of people that have not seen, you know, they've either lived there their entire life, and they move back or, you know, they're not aware of some of the other things that other people are doing just because there's a cost behind that. And, you know, when you're dealing, obviously, it's all of us in our in our roles, you're dealing with taxpayer dollars. And sometimes when you're trying to explain, you know, the benefit of marketing outside of a community, you know, that's hard, or, you know, specifically with the topic we're going to be talking about, about leadership, you know, even here in Platteville, you know, we truly did not before I got here, we did not have an HR person. So we have, you know, almost about 240 employees when you consider all of our summer seasonals. And they've never had anybody that was dedicated towards HR. So that was something we looked at, you know, even in a pandemic, trying to put into the 2021 budget. And there were some, you know, questions there about, should you really be trying to do that, you know, during a, during a pandemic, and when there's some serious crunches, but obviously, you know, the benefits of how we feel that position can truly help and impact leadership was something that we wanted to do. And then my last kind of, I guess, government related job was being the assistant to the administrator for the village of Hobart, which is about a 9000 resident municipality right outside of Green Bay. And that was where at that time, it was the fastest growing municipality in the state. And I think it still is pretty much right up there running to one, two, or three. So there was a lot of opportunities to learn about kind of economic development and how things are burning, you know, burning, you're burning the candle at both ends and trying to get what you can. So that had some interesting, you know, impacts and kind of plays on leadership. But obviously, you know, I consider myself kind of unique, because a lot of my experience is not just government, it's also private sector, too. So there was some time I've spent working for, you know, some concert venue, with different places there, as well as working for an insurance company, and then working for a couple of different financial information management companies throughout my career.
Yeah, I like that about your background, particularly for our listeners, most of the cities and counties in the United States are actually very small, as everyone knows, and so I appreciate your perspective, because it's the perspective of probably most people that are listening, honestly. And, you know, it's interesting to me that you've really been challenged, obviously, this year, and your new job, and this whole area of leadership and motivating your team and, and, and being approaching your team, through the lens of personality is a really important topic. But it's been harder to do, as you say, because we've not been able to connect, sort of interpersonal, like we have in the past. So let me ask you, we'll just kind of jump right in and tell me you know, a little bit about how have you seen a different personalities? impact your leadership? That is the personalities around you? Or maybe even just your personality? How have you seen your personality impact the way you lead? Yeah, I
think that's one, you know, that obviously, being in a couple of different municipalities has been a plus. And I think that's one of the things that I brought to leadership is, you know, there's always, especially when you're in smaller municipalities, there sometimes tends to be the lens that, well, you know, somebody that's been here all their life, or has has always been in this community is going to be the one that's going to know exactly what needs to be done. And that not necessarily is, is the case, because, you know, one of the unique things is, you know, I grew up in the Green Bay Area, and then have kind of moved to different areas. And in all the places I've been, there's been different experiences and different kinds of, you know, leadership styles that I've seen, you know, I've seen leaders that felt it was necessary to, you know, kind of be the quote unquote, military drill sergeant. And that works for some people, but you can tend to lose a lot of people, if you have that mentality to, you know, then I've seen, you know, other leadership styles where, you know, it's then the other end of the spectrum, where basically, you know, whatever the employee wanted, they just gave it, you know, and it wasn't a question, which definitely makes the employees happy, but may not be the best, you know, the best thing for the municipality as a whole. So it's been kind of a lot of observing and crafting, and honestly, it's trial and error. I think, you know, I would admit HR is, it's not my strong suit, it's not the area I really get passionate about. You know, I think most of us have certain areas that we thrive in, whether it's economic development, or you know, projects or management. And there are some of us out there that really love the HR but I think most of us would all agree that's not really the, the thing that gets us up to be thinking about, you know, FMLA policies and procedures and leave and disciplinary and that's not the fun part of the job. But it certainly is one of the necessary parts. So obviously, you know, I've seen I've seen things run the gamut. I've been with the administrators who, you know, knew how to and I say Think this is what's kind of rubbed off on me is you, it's gonna take you some time. And it's something that I think I'm still working on here in Platteville. I mean, I've only been here since January. So it's 11 months. But I'm still reading and learning from my staff and kind of learning through what, you know, what makes them tick. And there's some employees that I know that if I do, you know, have a little bit, I want to say straight, not harsh, isn't the right word, but stronger tone, that sometimes is what motivates them. But then I also know with some of my employees, that if I do that exact same action to that person, I'm gonna lose them, you know, they're gonna break down, they're not going to be happy, and they're going to be looking for another job. So I think that's one of the key the key things, you know, when you're dealing with leaders, leadership is knowing, you know, the positive and negative reactions that you need to do, you know, there's some employees that I'm aware of that they do require that continual, you know, positive reinforcement, where you know, and it's the smallest things, but it's the thing that makes them continue to get up in the morning, where, you know, just every time you see him, Hey, how you doing, you know, you're doing great in the finance department, or you're doing great in this department. And you may not think that that really has that big of an impact, but it does. And then there's other ones where it's all they want is they want more and more and more. And you have to be cognizant with those people that those are your go getters. But if you're, if you give them too much, you're gonna burn them out. So you know, there was, you know, I've been working with employees today I'm doing, you know, we're starting our annual review processes, where we kind of look at, you know, how everybody do last year, what are some of the goals, and obviously, being new, this is kind of their first time running through that. So they're setting the goals, but I've already talked to one of my employees who I know is kind of the, you know, they're super passionate, they're super into it. And they're just going, going, going and trying to get them you know, I don't want you to lose that passion. But I want you to ring in a little bit. Because I want you to be here for five to 10 years down the road. I don't want to see you in three years, you know, burnt out. So yeah, I think yeah, there's there's always, you know, I think we're always learning. But that's kind of the first things that come to my mind.
Yeah, I really, really like what you're saying, Adam, because it starts with having an awareness of the, of your team. And you know, you pick up little clues and hallways, you pick up clues in meetings, if you're paying attention, if you're watching and observing. And as you say, some people in on the disc, scale di SC the personality assessment that we use, it's a very simple assessment, a two dimensional assessment in which I'm an eye, generally speaking eyes do like reinforcement, and they like feedback, right? That is actually true. And if you can notice, on your team who those eyes are outgoing, collaborative, optimistic, people oriented, those people are going to appreciate more feedback and maybe encouragement than, say, a D, who's a driver, who's always hard charging and just results, results results. They don't need as much of that. So really, it sounds like you're doing this in a very natural way. And but it does start with just paying attention and watching the behaviors and attitudes of your team members.
Yeah, and it's definitely something I learned from various places. So the previous municipality I was in, was kind of a learning opportunity, because I had thought that I was very much aware of, you know, where my staff was. And as we started to go through the, you know, kind of evaluation process, I learned that and it was no fault that I think anybody's but, you know, I was learning that there was people that felt that they weren't included as much as they would have liked to have been in certain decisions or in certain processes. So kind of learning that, you know, it was it was something where you have to be able and this is something that I think I've learned throughout the years is my management style needs to shift on a dime. So it's where it's just kind of like you said, Bill, it's, if I know that, you know, somebody's an eye and they want that constructive feedback, well, then I need to be consistently giving that feedback, but then I need to be able to go to the next employee and be able to understand, okay, that's not going to work for this person. So they want to be more included in the process, they may understand that the you know, as the manager, there's always that saying the buck stops with us. So eventually, yeah, it may be our decision where we make the final say, but as long as you're including that person in the process, you know, they felt much better and that was something that I worked with that I worked on when I was in my previous places as learning you know, it's with our roles as you kind of move up to bigger bigger municipalities and bigger positions you kind of become more of a you know, it's I guess the quarterback managers the best case scenario, you're more of a game manager. And instead of you being from the you know, the start of a project to the finish, you're just kind of more on the sidelines kind of watching things go and letting your your crew and your department heads take on and that's sometimes it's a difficult thing, but it's not always easy to do when you start off with just you know, especially In smaller municipalities, you are that economic director, economic development director, finance director, HR person, etc. And so that's been a bit of a, you know, a shift here, when it gets a plateau is now you have more staff. So you don't have to put so much of a focus on, you know, monitoring the project from start to finish. But you have to be able to tweak your mindset, so you know, that you're watching the process. And for those employees that you know, either have concerns or, or want to be involved, that you're listening your insurance so that when the product gets to you, you know, that all the key players have the right involvement in the right, you know, feeling that they collaborated.
Yeah, you know, that reminds me is another attribute of on the disk. So we got di, Sc, D and I are at the top of the circle and SC are at the bottom. And the folks that are at the bottom, those Ss and C's that your supporters and your conscientious types, they generally like to have more time to consider issues, right. And if you happen to be a DEA leader or an AI leader, we tend to move fast, right? It's our natural inclination to go, you know, 60 miles an hour, where the SS and C's, you know, they, they need to really stop and do some research and think about this put together a process but to get our PERT chart, whatever. And right, as a leader, it's up to us. Let's say you're a D, Adam and me. It's up to us to again, as you say, recognize that about these folks on our team and give them that extra time to be in the loop and contribute in that way. Does that make sense?
Yeah, for sure.
Yeah, when have you seen that sort of element of just the pace, fast paced? Lower point? Have you seen that? Or have you seen that play out? Yeah, I
mean, I think that's definitely something that, you know, especially when you get to, you know, bigger municipalities, or even even smaller ones, where you have your, you know, one of the things that when I was kind of learning with my mentor was they would do department meetings with all their department heads. And, you know, they would do them weekly, and they knew that even though they were doing it weekly, just like you said, Bill, there is going to be some people that just are upset by the fact that, you know, we're not just taking a project and going, you know, and going with it. So it's it's trying to find, you know, when you're in those department head meetings, you you kind of get a skill balance of just reminding everybody, Hey, you know, and a lot of people have different things, you know, things it's, it's a marathon, not a sprint, it's you know, it's that it's, but it's wanting to make sure that if you know there's a project that you are able to have minimal involvement on and want somebody just to take and run with it, those are the perfect ones to give to those individuals, because you know, that that's what's going to fuel them, and then they're going to come back to you. And it gives you the ability to just kind of trust that, you know, once you see the product and the work product gets to the point that you're comfortable with, you can just give those projects to those people all the time. Whereas, you know, your more kind of comprehensive plans and your strategic plans, those are the ones that really kind of get your, you know, more of your analytical and your strategic thinkers, and the ones that, you know, if you need somebody to come up with a graph, or you know, a statistic that shows that or a survey, that's where you know, that that's where those people are going to excel. So I think it's trying to it's trying to learn your team and figuring out the balance of, you know, who do you bring on a project who don't you you know, and then when you know that you're going to it may be something that is the next has to be done. And it's a you know, an important part of whatever it is, whether it's the budget or you know, it's a project, then finding the ways to reassure those people that you know, may not be, you know, they're going to hit that wall eventually, because you're going to lose them. You got to find a way to keep them coming through the process. Because, you know, they may that may be their style, but you need to bring that style and pull it throughout the entire project.
Yeah, yeah, love that. You're really, you know, the theme here, from what I hear you saying is we need to pay attention to our employees, styles, and leverage or bring them along or consider their style, their need for involvement, their lack of need for involvement, their urgency, lack of urgency, all those are personality aspects that we need to be attuned to as a leader and I love really what you're saying I can tell that it's just kind of natural for you to do that kind of the closing finishing thought here question for you. And it has to do with so what what's, what's the outcome? What's the, in other words, do you see this as a motivating factor? Because we really, you know, one of our philosophies is that if we do this right, and align people and utilize people and leverage their assets, include and not include them at the right time, all that based on their personality and who they are. That is probably going to be a pretty mode. relational thing for you, it's almost like a motivational tool for you as a leader, could you just speak to that for a minute, kind of the payoff the the benefit of paying attention to people's styles?
Yeah, I think I think the biggest thing for that is if you're able to get to that point, um, or if you continue to make that a conscious effort that only improves your work product, and especially you as the city manager, or any manager, you know, when we get into these roles, you know, you the point is, you want your staff to be able to take the ball and run with it, and not have to be so you know, focused on okay, I need to get down. Because if you if you're having to get down to the nitty gritty of, you know, watching a project or watching, you know, whatever you're working on from start to finish, that's not good. That's not a good utilization of your time. Because obviously, as a city manager, as a manager, or an administrator, we are kind of the the, I guess, octopuses of the room, you know, we have all of our eight hands in various spots. But we're not fully in there, we have enough to know to be dangerous, because that's our role. Our role is to kind of be the the main, you know, one of the main spokespersons for your city, your village or town, but not be that super subject matter experts. So it's kind of finding that that happy balance of where when you feel that your employee felt that they were included in the process that they were able to participate. And they did it that their satisfaction that they feel the product they're putting in is good, that is only going to make what you're doing that much better. Because if you don't, then you're going to run into situations where you're going to lose the motivation of your staff, and they're going to give you a product, but it's going to be a product that is going to end up you're going to have to tweak because you know what your level of satisfaction is to bring to whether it's you know, you're going to a city council, or a village board or a town board, or it's a committee, and if you see that product, and that product is not going to be you know, to what you think it is, or, or is getting to the task of whatever it is. So if you're looking to go to, you know, you're going to a fleet management program potentially, well, if you don't have all of the information ahead of time and have the facts, you know, a meeting that normally should take two times one time through the council, and then it goes through action is now going to take four or five times, or you may not get it at all, because you just didn't come there with, you know what you know, so a lot of it is making sure that you know, you're continuing to be that positive influence on your staff, and giving them the tools and resources they need to be successful. So that the end result is successful. If not, you're going to deal with negativity, because either you're going to get people that, well, I don't have time to do that, because I'm working on X, Y and Z, you know, you have to be acknowledging to have workloads. So you know, as we as we kind of talked about in in previous conversations bill is you have to be observant of the especially those go getters that you have who wants you to just give them a project and let them go? Well, if you've already given them five projects, and now you're giving them another one, you you got to question to yourself, Okay, are you overloading this individual, because they'll do it. But if they're putting in, you know, 5060 hours a week to get to the completion, you're gonna burn that person out. You know, same thing with some of the more analytical people if you're not, you know, really, truly giving them the opportunity to work on a project that lets them thrive with that deep data analysis. You're gonna lose them, you know, it's the same thing. It's, it's trying to figure out how can you get, you know, with all of us, we have deadlines, and we have things that we need to get you and we have timelines that have to happen. So you're never you know, you're always going to run into situations where your go getters are not going to feel that you're moving fast enough. And your analytical, more slow paced, strategic planners feel that you're, you're going way too fast, and you're burning their tires. So it's again, that balance of trying to find out, okay, I need this out of you. And I need this out of you to get as close to the best product as we can, it may not be perfect, but at least it's going to be enough that we know when we go into that meeting, it's not going to be something that's going to be overly questioned and then people are looking at going why do we have the staff to do this when they have to keep going back and reinventing the wheel?
Yeah, I really, really resonate. I'm sure a lot of the folks listening resonate with that, you know, here's what I hear you saying sort of in summary, we've got to pay attention to our team, get to know our team, observe them. And then leverage, understand, appreciate and sort of flex projects and activities and tasks and so forth, that best suit their personality. The end result is a better work product I heard you say more motivated employees, they're going to stay with you if you're leveraging these things that they're good at. And really, it's just honestly as a leader, you know, our encouragement for leaders is get out of your own skin. You know, if we approach every person, the way we want to approach them based on our style. You know, we're going to miss out on 75% of the people out there because they're not going to leave line up with who we are, Brian, so I really really liked this approach that you take in getting to know your folks and then adjusting your approach, you know, based on their based on their style.
Yeah, and I think I think that's the key is it's you have to be willing to, you know, at the end of the day, you were brought into this position to be the manager or the administrator or you know, whatever. But you also have to understand, you have to be willing to, if you're not going to ask your staff how they want feedback, then you're not going to know and you're going to be setting yourself up to fail. So I think that's one of the biggest things I've learned is, you know, that's one of the first questions I asked all of my directors or staff is, okay, I need you to tell me, what motivates you or what it what is it? How
do you want feedback? Do you want me to give it to you verbally? Do you want it by email, do you not care is that you want for a while you
want a pat on the back? I think those are things and then you have to be able to show the humility as the manager to, to sometimes understand that you may fail at that. And that's reality. But be willing to admit that and explain that. Because then, you know, that's what happened is, I had a moment where I thought what I was doing was the correct way of feedback and giving it and found out Whoa, I gotta change my style. And I had an opportunity, either I could just like you said, Bill is stay in my skin and go, nope, this is me, I'm this. And then what's going to happen, I'm gonna lose staff, or I make the decision to go you know, what I need to pivot and be able to bring that person in. So find the things you'll find those tools that this person's a tech savvy person. All right, have them sit on every IT committee that you have, you know, whether you're doing an update to your website, or you're doing some new gadget, or, you know, phone thing, bring them in. So it's finding the ways of, you know, finding out what makes your staff tick, and then putting them on those committees to make them successful. Because then at the end of the day, that's less time you're going to be spending as the manager trying to find to in those specific projects.
Yeah, I want to leave everybody with this word you just said and humility. Thinking of others, getting to know others, modifying your approach to serve others, is an others oriented way of leading. And it requires a certain amount of humility, and putting others best interests sometimes ahead of our own normal ways of doing things. That's what I hear you saying. And, you know, so Humility is a wonderful attribute. And that's one way it definitely can come out. So appreciate you saying that. Well, it has been a great pleasure, Adam, thank you so much. for spending some time with us. We want to encourage all of our listeners, if you're ever up in Wisconsin, please go to Platteville spend a lot of money. And yeah, and a lot of tax revenue. Right. And that would be great. That'd be great. Yeah. Well, thank you so much. Again, it's been great sharing with you and for everyone that's listening. We hope you have a great day. And we hope that what we've been talking about today this idea of of leading and doing it having effective relationships by taking into account personality. We hope this has been helpful to you and and we hope you have a great afternoon.
Yes, you too. Thanks, everybody.