This commentary is by Matt Krauss, of Stowe. He is a retired state employee and former state legislator.
This is a wonderful time and great opportunity to explore every Vermont village, town, city and organization, encouraging interested applicants to step forward for challenging leadership vetting. And, for a short period, can we agree to set aside the political class, thereby allowing a full examination of other qualified Vermonters?
Forty years in Human Resources offers a proven process for Vermonters. Consider four steps in this order; assess, recruit, screen, select. We have counseled leaders and organizations in the vital first step thorough assessment of skills, talents, and abilities their organization lacked.
Once determined, we recruit as widely as possible, and then screen carefully. Only then, do we select. Following these steps to fill a key leadership position will offer the best results. Let’s use the next year wisely to choose the best leaders available. Here is my brief list of what Vermonters might be missing and why.
- A veteran – veterans have a distinctly unique skill set. Unselfish, accepting responsibility and growing their team. The military leads the nation in meritocracy and bases promotion on accomplishment and ability, not extraneous factors. Vermonters should thank veterans for their service and encourage them to once again consider serving their nation and Vermont in the political ranks. Five retired Navy Seals announced they were running for Congress. Wouldn’t Vermont benefit from a similar infusion of talented veterans running and ready to serve Vermonters? The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion, and other non-profit military organizations know a few qualified veterans ready to step up.
- A small business owner – they dream, create, and maintain their pride and joy all the while serving as the economic engine of Vermont. Tested by a pandemic, inflation, supply chain issues, and labor shortages. Every day thousands of these dedicated and talented individuals perform virtual miracles staying afloat. Then, they start it all over the following day. Aren’t these the kinds of leaders Vermont desperately needs? Could they make government services operate better using their talents, innovative spirit and relentless drive? Should we ask the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), local Chambers of Commerce, and business clubs, to look among their members for talented leaders deserving of a promotion?
- A mother – At a time when role models seem to be lacking, how about a mother? Especially those who have finished raising their children. What a great pool of unrealized potential. They’ve raised their children, our next generation, seen them off to college or work, and are now ready and eager for a new chapter in their lives. Comfortable with themselves, these women have weathered tons of emergencies with equal measures of love, creativity and discipline. Years of paying the bills and balancing the family checkbook could bring a little fiscal sanity to Congress and Vermont. Do you know some qualified mothers in your community?
- A Republican – if you accept and embrace that diversity has benefits why wouldn’t you want to elect a Republican leaders? Vermont’s blue status is well documented, but Vermonters are open to quiet, well reasoned solutions to current and future problems. Governor Scott and former Governor Douglas should serve as good examples to emulate and elect. Grace under fire and unafraid to state their position without raising their voices. Shouldn’t Vermonters hear all sides of important issues before rendering a decision? “One party fits all” would make a terrible bumper sticker and a disaster for our state.
- A COVID-19 volunteer leader. When November elections roll around Vermonters will have faced almost three years of unrelenting and continuing COVID-19 issues. Many volunteers in their communities and on their own initiative stepped forward to help their less fortunate friends and neighbors in many ways. These groups showed the Vermont way to lead and address our worst health crisis in a hundred years. My home town of Stowe had a volunteer group called Stowe C19 Response Team to help local citizens. What was your group’s name? Who led them? Aren’t these volunteers worthy and deserving of strong consideration when a next leader is chosen?
- A long-term coach – we all know college, high school and middle school coaches, who for decades have taught, motivated, guided, acted as role models, and taught good sportsmanship. Year after year we place our most precious possession, our children, in their hands. We trust their judgement, their discipline, and advice to our children. Their teams and the coaches represent their community and are under constant scrutiny. I’ll bet you know a coach in your community who has the makings of a statewide leader.
That’s my list. Have one you would like to share? Media friends highlight the same 3-4 individuals when discussing our next leader. Does it come across more like a coronation than an objective, factual evaluation of their accomplishments? Know any individuals among the 643,000 Vermonters, who with a little encouragement, might make great political leaders?
Some organizations skipped the assessment phase for their new leader and raced blindly ahead to select the first candidate to pop up. A number came to regret that rush to judgement for such an important position. Let’s ensure Vermont avoids this outcome by spending the next year looking at every Vermonter declaring their interest to be our next leader. It will be time well spent.