My Turn: A positive voice for Lake Tahoe
May 22, 2011
LAKE TAHOE and#8212; Mr. Rendaand#8217;s May 6 story on the Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan states that the purpose of the Tahoe Prosperity Center headed by Mr. Ward and others is an attempt to rejuvenate a struggling economy. Mr. Renda also writes that Mr. Ward and the rest of the TPC board are tasked with quashing the quibbles and fostering a renewed spirit of collaboration. Comments from Mr. Ward mention that and#8220;We have to mitigate the negative voices and shift the balance to a more positive approachand#8230;and#8221; and and#8220;The background chatter in the Lake Tahoe Basin is overwhelmingly negative.and#8221;
We all live in this lake community together and we all have viewpoints, opinions and concerns about the future direction of the lake and#8212; all of these ideas matter. Some people are deeply concerned for the preservation of the lake and basin area, some people want jobs, some people want to preserve their jobs and some folks want to make an investment in the community. And in as much as we donand#8217;t all fully support some of the decisions and/or ideas from any of these groups, they all serve a very valuable function. Some of the ideas are fact based and some are strongly opinionated (based on feeling or emotion). Regardless of the motivation for these diverse ideas, they all matter and all should be heard. The fact that we are dealing with such a diverse issue makes it all that much challenging. But to tell any of these groups that their idea is negative is not a constructive or positive way to get everyone working toward a common goal something we so desperately need.
So should a leader in such a high profile position make a public remark that someoneand#8217;s idea is negative? In my opinion, no, a person in such a leadership position should respect all comments. Does this then imply that such a leader will have little regard for anyone who opposes his or her view or their constituentand#8217;s future vision of the lake and not be flexible to compromise? I certainly hope not, but starting out oneand#8217;s leadership position by dispelling certain viewpoints is in no way going to bring accord to a situation that so desperately needs it.
In my line of work as a systems integration/management consultant I have been both a project manager and a project team consultant. I have worked on projects staffed with only a handful of team members and some with as many as 90 team members. To think that everyone, even in the smallest of teams, shares the same views regarding the direction of a project is foolhardy indeed. If we just sent the supposedly and#8220;dissentingand#8221; folks back to their offices, some might think we would have been able to move forward with a smooth and ultimately successfully completed project. However, everyone on a project is there for a reason. There is the consulting team and the clientand#8217;s business team, and everyoneand#8217;s voice matters; the consulting team has software and business management expertise and the clientand#8217;s team consists of subject matter experts representing different functional areas of the business.
We need community leaders who know how to deal with all sides and who can bring the troops together working toward a common goal. While I agree that we obviously need a forward moving and cooperative approach we also need one that is balanced with compromise, serious compromise. Using language that tells people their idea is negative is not a good starting point. Hearing and most importantly listening to people express concerns about things is healthy and lets us know there are issues that need dealing with. It also shows respect for everyoneand#8217;s ideas.
In the future I encourage those folks in high profile community leadership positions to please use positive language in their public comments and also respect everyoneand#8217;s ideas. There is too much of and#8220;we vs. theyand#8221; and it only serves to prolong and fuel the fires. The last time I looked we all live on one lake. We have a long, difficult road ahead of us. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes we will fail, but everyone deserves a fair and equal voice in the process.
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Derrek Aaron is a 3-year resident of Incline Village. He is a CPA and Systems Integration/Management Consultant.