Editorial & Opinion

The N.C. DOT should look for a ‘Level 5’ leader for the Ferry Division

Editorial

There’s a lot of discussion these days about leadership in all areas of our lives as leadership defines the success of every team, organization, government agency or nation.

Jim Collins, in his book “Good to Great,” (2001) identified several key items that lift a company or team from competent to truly great, and the first–and most important–trait is what Collins identified as “Level 5 leadership.”

The levels of leadership below Level 5 are, from lowest to highest, “highly capable individual,” “contributing team member,” “competent manager,” “effective leader.”

Collins’ findings are still relevant as we assess leadership, from the highest in the nation to the manager of a small company or team.

According to Collins, Level 5 leaders are ambitious for the company’s success rather than their own riches and personal renown. They blend “extreme humility with intense professional will.”

They channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.

Level 5 leaders are incredibly ambitious, but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.

Interestingly, Collins’ research showed that these Level 5 leaders were most often promoted from within the companies.

“The evidence does not support the idea that you need an outside leader to come in and shake up the place to go from good to great,” Collins writes. “In fact, going for a high-profile outside change agent is negatively correlated with a sustained transformation from good to great.”

David E. Hallac, who in 2015 became superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore of which Ocracoke is a part, is this kind of leader.

His humility but passion for the job has been evident since he first set foot on Ocracoke and basically said, unlike his predecessor, “How can I help?”

Hallac has been a relief to islanders and a breath of fresh air. He has listened to islanders’ concerns about beach access and was instrumental in Ocracoke’s success in getting back professional fireworks last year as he and his staff visited the island to figure this out.

His predecessor did not want to tackle this.

Hallac is no stranger to tackling tough issues during his career with the National Park Service. While working in the Everglades, he confronted an exploding population of invasive Burmese pythons and wandering bison in Yellowstone National Park.

He was selected, according to a press release, because has a proven track record of working with other land management agencies and he has extensive experience working collaboratively with local community groups and friends’ associations…. and also understands the value of both preserving the resources and enjoying the recreational opportunities they offer.

Ed Goodwin, who recently departed as director of the Ferry Division, was not a Level 5 leader. When Goodwin assumed the position in 2014, he visited Ocracoke and seemed to be interested in helping the island, but his subsequent actions seemed to belie this.

At that time, the short ferry route between Hatteras and Ocracoke, deteriorated further due to excessive shoaling and was closed down. He then strongly supported using a passenger ferry between the islands as a means to help move people out of the long lines at Hatteras. But he also supported a toll on the Hatteras ferry as a means to get revenue to run the system, something islanders and others had been fighting for years.

In October of 2015, Goodwin attended a meeting on Ocracoke about a toll and the possibility of islanders paying for an all-ferry pass, both of which islanders attending said they did not want. At that meeting he said, essentially, OK. I’ll fight for whatever you all want. On the same day, his then-deputy director Jed Dixon made a presentation to the Dare County board of commissioners which ended with the commissioners voting to authorize their representative to vote for a toll, should this come up.  Goodwin should have told the islanders about the Dare presentation, rather than having them read it in the press.

After that, Goodwin’s actions and demeanor changed on his infrequent visits to Ocracoke, and many here have questioned the success with which he ran the ferry operation.

A former-Gov. McCrory appointee, Goodwin’s career included chairman of the Chowan County Board of Commissioners and a 21-year stint as a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigation Services (NCIS).

Many islanders still believe that not all of the options of reviving the short route between the islands have been studied or exhausted, but there are serious challenges brought on by nature, bureaucracy and finding dredging money.

We hope the NCDOT carefully considers these Level 5 qualities for the next leader of the Ferry Division.

 

 

 

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