The Facilitative Leader in City Hall: Reexamining the Scope and Contributions

James H. Svara

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December 9, 2008 by CRC Press
Professional - 414 Pages - 10 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9781420068313 - CAT# AU6831
Series: ASPA Series in Public Administration and Public Policy

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Features

  • Examines governmental structure and the political process in today’s cities
  • Offers a new model of leadership for mayors in council-manager and mayor-council cities
  • Discusses governmental reform issues
  • Provides a diverse array of case studies of mayoral leadership written by scholars and practitioners
  • Presents guidelines to city managers and city administrators on how to work with top politicians

Summary

Two forms of local government are prevalent in American cities. The style of leadership found in mayor-council cities draws attention to the mayor and frequently involves power struggles as mayors attempt to assert control over city councils and city staff. However, the leadership of the mayor in council-manager cities can be less visible and easily overlooked. The Facilitative Leader in City Hall: Reexamining the Scope and Contributions boldly suggests a collaborative model for leadership that identifies what is unique in the council-manager setting. Mayors acting as facilitative leaders can successfully guide their cities drawing on the contributions of the council and the manager rather than attempting to drive them.

Scholar James H. Svara builds on his work in the 1994 book Facilitative Leadership in Local Government, and provides a more critical analysis of the mayor’s office in a wider variety of cities. This book examines the model of facilitative leadership and the importance of vision in explaining the nature of mayoral leadership and its effect on the performance of city government. It analyzes responses from a 2001 national survey of city council members and examines the findings of fourteen case studies of mayors who have served in recent years. The book features ten case studies from council-manager cities, three from mayor-council cities, and one from Denmark that highlights the importance of culture as well as formal structure in understanding leadership style.

This book reexamines facilitative leadership across forms of government and addresses two questions: can mayors without separate formal powers be effective leaders? And alternatively, can mayors with formal powers provide more effective leadership by using facilitative approaches? The unexpected answer to both questions is "yes." As cities face the challenge of adapting to new approaches to governance, all mayors need to lead with facilitation and vision.