Anyone watching the Dec. 13 League City Council meeting knows change is on the horizon for this fast-growing and affluent community. But the question is, who’s going to lead that change?
After months of fighting between City Manager Mark Rohr and Mayor Pat Hallisey, Rohr was shown the door. While Rohr listed his accomplishments since being hired as city manager in 2014 — helping to create the Roadmap to the Future, getting long-lingering projects such as Five Corners and downtown revitalization off the ground — it all came down to personality and management style. It always does.
Five of the council’s eight members decided the best course would be to sever the city’s relationship with its manager.
Consider that during the same meeting, City Attorney Nghiem Doan’s job also was on the line. But in a split vote, the city council decided against firing Doan, citing his humility and willingness to admit and learn from mistakes. Council members didn’t assign such attributes to Rohr.
Every CEO represents the company brand. City managers are CEOs of a city, and Rohr was the CEO of a company with more than 500 employees, a $192 million budget and 100,000 customers. Rohr had skills and was particularly strong in economic development. No one argued that he wasn’t good at executing vision or getting things done. But he didn’t have the people skills, more than one city council member said.
Ask most business analysts, and they’ll tell you a CEO’s personality matters even more than other abilities and education.
And if ever a company needed a leader with people skills and personality, it’s League City, where one of the CEO’s main challenges is to unite elected officials around a vision and to stay clear of the politics as best he can.
As council members launch a job search to replace Rohr, they should consider what the city’s brand will be. Will it be divisive politics as usual, or will it brand itself as a progressive city ready to move ahead?
Will old factions and what some council members describe as “gotcha” politics come into play as council members choose the next CEO of League City?
Let’s hope not.