Opinion: County Administrator Chris Wren One Year Later
By N3 Editorial Staff
At the end of the regular board meeting the Newaygo County Board of Commissioners were scheduled to do an evaluation of Chris Wren the county administrator who assumed the reins of leadership in that position 1 year ago.
As expected given his strong commitment to transparency when offered the option of having the evaluation be closed or open, Wren chose to have the assessment of his job performance be open to the public and press.
Commissioners each had praise and gave high marks for the job performance of Mr. Wren and in the opinion of N3 this praise is well deserved for many reasons.
Often with political entities there is a tendency to deliver various levels of complimentary comments on each other as well as toward the group itself at times. We get it. It feels pretty good and all and it’s more often than not pretty accurate if perhaps a bit self aggrandizing.
The praise for Wren, however, was spot on. This is a guy who...
...came into a tough situation rife with leftover baggage that required addressing and a pocketful of issues too long simmering on the back burner.
Wren came in and made some tough decisions, and made them because he felt they were the right ones despite the difficulty they posed. He came in confident and possessing that rare attribute of being unafraid to fail. He recognized any accomplishments achieved were due in a great part to the staff who perform the many duties required to make a county operate efficiently and made it a point to let them and anyone else know his mindset toward this.
Wren maintained from the start that he did not have an open door policy because that would mean he spent all of his hours in his office and he has made it a point of getting out to meet the community,acquaint himself with our organizations and activities, interact with county employees and generally provide a visible presence that has been refreshing to witness. He also professes an ongoing regard for the natural wonders that exist in our parts, having long been a visitor before taking the job he now holds.
And true to form when Wren responded to the kudos from the commissioners during the evaluation he was quick to point out that his staff deserved the majority of any credit given for progress achieved.
We at N3 find leadership to be a quality significantly more scarce than some folks (who see themselves to be in possession of said quality) might have you believe. Bosses are a dime a dozen and come with various levels of competency. Politicians who fancy themselves leaders are too often woefully ordinary and exceptions to this seem to be disappointingly few.
True leaders never even think about having to convince others of their leadership ability because they’re too busy just providing it as part of their day to day duties. They recognize the support of others, have a sense of humor, particularly regarding their personal shortcomings, and they treat others with a level of respect that is genuine and with purpose.
They are unafraid to be wrong, welcome input from others, and pay little attention to their press clippings whether good or bad.They don’t take things personally and separate their ego from the task at hand.
Chris Wren is such a leader and it is gratifying to see the Board of Commissioners recognizing the positive change in culture that seems to have accompanied his presence in the administration office.
Praise for anyone in the public eye can be fleeting and as his time in Newaygo County continues we are certain that issues will arise that will displease portions of the community as well as employees, elected officials, and perhaps even the local media. After all, it’s the nature of the job.
However after a year of watching Wren operate, he appears to possess the integrity required to gain the trust of the people he deals with from board members to employees to members of the community.
And that, my friends, is no small task these days.
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