Leadership in Newburyport, MA

What makes a good mayor?

Wow, that’s a tough one.

I read an article on the World Wide Web by Warrren Bennis called “The Leadership Advantage,” from “Leader to Leader,” Spring 1999. And in the article there is this checklist, which I found fascinating.

Constituent Needs for:
Meaning and direction
Hope and optimism

Leaders provide:
Sense of purpose
Authentic relationships
“Hardiness” (confidence that things will work out)
Bias toward action, risk, curiosity, and courage

To Help Create:
Goals and objectives
Reliability and consistency
Energy and commitment
Confidence and creativity

I know there are colleges, universities and PhD programs for this sort of thing. So I feel a little foolish, a blogger who is a professional artist blogging about leadership. But Newburyport, MA has had a mayoral turnover every two years for quite a long time, and leadership is definitely an issue.

And how in the world do we as a small municipality with limiting funds come up with such a human being that has the experience and the persona to create the criteria above?

I will have to admit that long for someone in the corner office that we can trust to give the citizens of Newburyport, MA a sense of “trust, hope and optimism” and who imparts “confidence that things will work out,” and inspires “energy, confidence and creativity.”

There have been a number of Letters to the Editor about having a “professional City Manager” for Newburyport, MA. I will confess that I have no idea what that means (I suspect it would indicate a trained municipal CEO) or how in the world we in Newburyport, MA would ever accept such a concept. But I long for consistency at the helm of our New England seaport city that would exhibit the criteria for first-rate leadership mentioned in the checklist above.

Mary Eaton

Editors note: The full article can be found at: