Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Simple test of leadership for council




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        While Rome is burning, Nero and the counselors are taking the Myers-Briggs. This is the alphabet-soup test adored by business executives willing to be categorized in ways that sound like what you might find in your average fortune cookie.

        As the Twitty case was exploding in our faces again, Mayor Charlie Luken, Cincinnati's city manager and council members were discussing their results at a two-day retreat. The mayor was found to be an ISTP. Those letters stand for introverted, sensing, thinking and perceiving personality. Career suggestions for ISTPs include farmer, mechanic, electrical technician, engineer, dental hygienist and intelligence agent.

        Out of the 16 possible combinations, it turns out that City Manager Valerie Lemmie and Councilman Jim Tarbell are both ENTJs, or extroverted, intuitive, thinking, judging types. Apparently, they are practically indistinguishable from each other. Two peas in a pod.

        The Myers-Briggs model suggests Mr. Tarbell and Ms. Lemmie might investigate the possibility of becoming lawyers, managers, scientists or mortgage brokers. Which sounds about right for the city manager, although I am not sure which of these give her the best opportunity for the hugging for which she is famous.

        As for Mr. Tarbell, can anybody imagine him behind a test tube?

        Then there's vice mayor Alicia Reece, an ESTP - extroverted, sensing, thinking, perceiving. Her personality type “dislikes long explanations.” Unless, of course, they are made by her.

        Councilman David Pepper organized the retreat at Hueston Woods State Park. Knowledgeworks Foundation paid for the Myers-Briggs program, and public officials donated their time. So no taxpayers were hurt in the making of this production.

        But if these people haven't yet figured out who among them is “warmly enthusiastic” (John Cranley) or “quiet and conscientious” (Paul Booth) or “warm-hearted and talkative” (Chris Monzel) or “serious and logical” (David Pepper), then they must have been in a deep coma on Wednesday afternoons during council meetings.

        “The test provided a lot of laughs,” Councilman David Crowley said.

        Once you've had a good laugh with somebody, it's probably easier to work with him or her. Next, I suppose they'll be doing the “trust walk” and hooking each other up to elaborate ropes on group journeys of self-discovery.

        Maybe they'll all get mood rings or engage the services of a Tarot card facilitator. Maybe they'll start getting together on weekends to give each other facials and braid each other's hair. Maybe they will become a wonderful team. Maybe they will figure out a way for the ENTJs and the ESTPs to have, as they say, a meaningful dialogue.

        Maybe.

        Meanwhile the city has nobody calling the plays. Just teams pulling in every direction. What we could really use is a leader. A captain. And, on 9-11 Eve, I would suggest an alphabet code that is easier to understand and a lot more direct. WWRD.

        What Would Rudy Do?

        E-mail lpulfer@enquirer.com. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/pulfer.

       



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- PULFER: Simple test of leadership for council
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