Leadership Exchange Summary – KC Leaders Weigh In


October 13, 2010

Last week’s blog was an “as it happened” account of The Chamber’s 8th Annual Leadership Exchange to Indianapolis October 3-5.  The trip to Indy followed trips since 2003 to Pittsburg, San Diego, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Seattle, Nashville, and Denver.   To date, Indianapolis appears to share the most significant comparables with Kansas City.   The trip details can be viewed at http://www.kcchamber.com/GOVERNMENT-RELATIONS/Leadership-Exchange-2010.aspx.

Kristi Smith Wyatt, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Policy Development

Also, check out this link related to the trip from The Kansas City Star October 11 Kevin Collison article: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/10/11/2301312/indianapolis-new-hotel-adds-appeal.html.

Some of our trip delegates have offered their take-aways from this Leadership Exchange as lessons learned which provide interesting food for thought, such as:

Community engagement……
The biggest take-away for me, that is widely applicable to our region, was Indianapolis’ strategy to broadly engage the community around their 2012 Super Bowl effort and build the next generation of committed community leaders.  The examples included the wide number of committees, the pairing of up-and-comers with experienced community leaders, and even the scarf knitting effort – all terrific strategies for broad community engagement and future community leader sustainability.  Dan Getman, President -Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, Inc.

Unigov system……
The power of the Unigov, and the incredible leadership for 16 years by Mayor Hudnut…  This system can help create a longer-term, less “political” focus on getting the big things accomplished over a longer period of time. Eric Morgenstern, President and CEO-Morningstar Communications

Growing the next generation of leaders……
Kansas City needs to do a more effective job of identifying and developing young leaders within the metro.  These individuals will not have the same stereotypes and animosities that have been created over the years by the state line.  They will be active & proactive for causes and initiatives that benefit the entire metro.  Many of our large corporations have strong leaders who are active in community leadership, but that’s the extent of their company’s involvement.  We need to be pulling now from the lower tiers of management in those organizations and gearing them for their future role in leading our community.  Steve Fleishaker, President/Olathe Market- Bank of Blue Valley; Chairman-Olathe Chamber of Commerce

Strategic placement of assets……
Indy was very strong on locating major cultural/sports amenities together with their hotels and convention facilities so that there is a walkable, connected infrastructure for their future.  Once you have separated these assets, as we have done so many times in Kansas City, you spend all of your time trying to figure out how to “connect the dots” rather than how to make those amenities stronger.  Your dollars get stretched and wasted and you still cannot create the walkable environment necessary for success.  The hotel, convention and sports opportunities are very strong when packaged together as in Indy.  To me, this was a stronger community statement than the proclamation of “amateur sports capital of the world.”    Jon Copaken, Principal- Copaken Brooks 

Value of downtown……
My perspective naturally trends toward downtown issues.  When we were at the breakfast in Carmel and the suburb cities were saying they would not poach from downtown, I felt there was a level of respect and understanding that all felt the downtown core was the heart of their region and needed to be strong.  I am not sure I can say that about our region.  Lynn Craighead, Senior Vice President-U. S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation; Chair- Downtown Council of Kansas City

Setting and attaining goals……
Indianapolis knows what industry it wants to attract and goes after it aggressively. This strategy has certainly paid off for their economic development. Kansas City needs to follow suit.  Hon. Jan Marcason, City Councilwoman- City of Kansas City, Missouri

I learned that Indianapolis acted and, as a direct result of acting, they achieved.  Sly James, President-  The Sly James Firm

Based on my experience, I would suggest we need ‘level five leaders’ (Collins, J. GOOD TO GREAT. 2001.) and should shoot for Pockets of Greatness across counties, cities, etc. not totally unifying all efforts in all things.  Kliff Kuehl, KCPT Public Television/Channel 19- President & CEO

I learned that the Indianapolis funder’s collaborative invites representatives from the Governor’s office and Mayor’s office to attend their meetings.  In this way they are theoretically able to better implement a strategic vision for the city in terms of their public/philanthropic investments.  Brenda Sharpe, President and CEO- The REACH Healthcare Foundation

Public/Private Partnerships……
I learned the new, perhaps more acceptable, TIF jargon…”public/private partnership!”   Hon. Peggy Dunn, Mayor-City of Leawood, Kansas

The ability to stay with a priority over a long period of time is critical.  Mayor Dick Lugar’s vision would have died without a Mayor Bill Hudnut to move it forward.   Their biosciences effort has taken a considerable amount of work and funding, and it continues to be a focus, which makes it an attractive investment for Lilly and others.  Also, Craig Brater’s presence, and his ability to work with others, is important to the biosciences.

Having companies, a state capital, a university, and a real retail center in or near downtown makes a difference.  Kansas City lacks the synergy of several parts working together to create a sense of motion from real people.

Having a series of elected leaders with a vision and the ability to get along with others is huge.

Having the metro in one state is important.

Overall, good learnings, but once again reinforces we cannot just try to be what others are. We have to be ourselves.  They did not talk much about all the problems Unigov had in its early years, and there were many.  Having better governmental cooperation in our metro across the state line would make a difference, but they have worked through many of those problems.  Jewel Scott, Executive Director- The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City   

In summary……
Things I learned in Indianapolis
1)       I much prefer Kansas City.
2)       We should appreciate our Downtown and our unique Country Club Plaza.
3)       We must have a strong mayor in Kansas City, MO.  The mayor of the central city should be the lead spokesperson for the community.
4)       The business community needs to coalesce its thinking and lead elected officials.
5)       Focus!  Select a couple of things to be best at and put resources and attention to that.
6)       The importance (once again) of the National Cancer Institute designation for the Bioscience initiative, and that Kansas City should focus on translational medicine.
7)       Think big.
8)       Amateur sports can be big and create lots of revenue for a community.
9)       Peyton Manning can lose once in awhile!

                 Carolyn Watley, President-CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services of Kansas City

Attached is a link to the final list of 2011 Leadership Exchange trip delegates:


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