On his blog, <RiverCityRapids>, Jon Baliles is attacking the establishment of Richmond City and how it submits so easily to VCU‘s whims. He states, quite correctly, that VCU has been a major economic force for revitalization in the city (so that’s good), but that it is leading to our city leaders essentially handing over the keys to the city and rolling over whenever the city plans may conflict with VCU’s plans.
Jon certainly makes good arguments and I would encourage you to take a look at his recent posts on the subject, especially the most recent, "A Resistance To Reflexively Go Along Part III: VCU". You can come to your own conclusion about whether you think Richmond’s Planning Commission was right or wrong in their decision to stay out of VCU’s way. (and I would be happy to hear your views here in the comments section)
My comments are more to the general topic of leadership, especially as it applies here in Richmond. Jon is right that the most memorable leaders have gone against the grain, and been successful in spite of their setbacks.
I submit, however, that a great leader is often not the most memorable. The best leaders are those who bring people together to pursue a common vision, especially when the different parties are not originally cooperating. Those types of leaders aren’t always remembered explicitly in history books, but they are often the ones that are the most effective in enacting real change.
Being remembered shouldn’t be the point. Making changes to better society and move forward should be.
Merely going against the current doesn’t produce results, as we have seen from recent events. In fact, we have so many "leaders" in Richmond trying to impose their will on public policy that everyone is butting heads and absolutely nothing is being accomplished.
What would make a great leader in Richmond is a combination of:
- a strong vision of what Richmond could be
- a will to lead and serve the public’s interest (rather than one’s own ego)
- the ability to bring people together and coordinate efforts (rather than dividing and conquering)
What do you think? Is there anything you’d like to add to the list?