July 15, 2010

Vapor Trail Over Bedford Falls

A brilliant administrative officer who shall remain unnamed here, has frequently compared his career as a (his term) “bureaucrat” to a “vapor trail of non-consequence.”

In his opinion, he works very hard every day but, ultimately, his career will disappear at the end of his term of service like a vapor trail behind a streaking airliner.

He laughs it off, but I’d prefer to think that his career in administrative services is not a vapor trail at all, but more like the humble George Bailey in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I believe this man’s work (and others like him) will leave a lasting legacy—a body of work and accomplishments that will go on for a long time.

I’ve heard administrative officers also compared to “piano tuners” or “golf caddies.” The reality is that administrative operations are not subservient within the organization, but are a critical part of its core mission--providing strategic leadership, delivery of services, and critical support in partnership with other professionals delivering primary services to the organization's clients.

The key is that leaders at all levels instill a sense of value in everyone within the organization and, thereby, keep everyone motivated to do the right things—together. The administrator I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, by the way (in case he reads this), is just such a leader.

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