Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Directors Zone

by  Douglas R. Failing
Issue Date: 09/2007

Now that the State budget impasse is behind us with the recent approval by the State Senate and signature by the Governor, we can all move on to very important issues in front of us as a Department.  Probably most important is the concept of making sure that others who are coming behind us will be prepared to take our places – and do as well as, or a even a better job, than we have done. 

This month’s issue of your Inside Seven employee newsletter, highlights two important Caltrans mentoring programs.  Each and every one of us who have risen in leadership, have done so because there were people who we have sought out and chose as a mentor to model ourselves after – or who, in a more formal process, decided to reach out a hand to help us be able to achieve more than perhaps, we would have been able to achieve alone. 

New groups of people are needed at all levels of this organization, who are able to step into the leadership roles that so many of us fill today.  We owe it to those who helped us rise, as well as to those who are coming behind us, to be able to create opportunities for other great people to grow as leaders in the Department.   

Not everyone wants to be a leader; not everyone should be a leader.  But for those who want to, or who have the skill sets, we all need to help create opportunities so they can learn the necessary lessons in order to lead an organization like this.

A lot of us in leadership positions have been here for a long time.  Some days we just feel old.  It’s true!  But that’s okay because we are going to continue doing the good jobs that we have been doing.  But for the rest who are ready to take on a leadership role -- whether a squad leader in Engineering, a leadworker or supervisor position in Maintenance, Surveys, Planning or Administration, or all the places where we need people to step up and be able to lead -- we need to realize that leadership doesn’t happen just because you want it.  The skill sets to learn and apply to leadership are every bit as important -- and as difficult -- as the other skill sets you need to learn to do the jobs that you do well today.  And it takes a very different thought process.

There are no born leaders in this world.  So this is our opportunity, and this is the time for those of us here, to start thinking about where are the multitudes of people who are going to replace us?  And how can we help create opportunities to develop them and their skills? 

Whether in executive leadership, mid-level management or a supervisor in the Department, we all need to acknowledge the more formal process necessary to train those leaders who are coming up.  We need to start to find ways to include ourselves in the important mentoring programs that will make many of you ready to replace many of us, in the future.