Otsego’s Borton returns from County Leadership Institute with focus on building consensus

Otsego County's Ken Borton is congratulated on his completion of the County Leadership Institute by NACo Executive Director Matt Chase and NACo Director of Strategic Relations Linda Langston. (NACo photo)

Otsego County’s Ken Borton is congratulated on his completion of the County Leadership Institute by NACo Executive Director Matt Chase and NACo Director of Strategic Relations Linda Langston. (NACo photo)

Otsego County Board Chair Ken Borton, also MAC’s second vice president, “graduated” in June from the County Leadership Institute (CLI) put on by the National Association of Counties (NACo). With the “rigorous four-day program offered in partnership with Cambridge Leadership Associates, NACo aims to enhance the capability of county officials to identify and implement innovative solutions to complex challenges facing county government. Attendees learn how to effectively address the demands of personal leadership in a new era of government. This era is characterized as a “permanent crisis” by CLI Program Developer and Cambridge Leadership co-founder Marty Linsky.”

MAC News asked Borton what lessons he drew from the training:

  1.  I learned how to better run a meeting including how to allow constructive engagement of people with opposing viewpoints. This will make for better input on issues prior to making any decisions. They used a great analogy: If you want to make great stew, you can’t just put in one or two of your favorite ingredients and expect it to turn out right. You have to put in a lot of ingredients, including some you may not think you like. Then you have to apply just the right amount of heat in order to make it meld together. On the other hand, if you have all the correct ingredients and apply too much heat, you will just boil over. If you apply too little heat, you will wind up with mush. For me, I found out that I always try to turn down the heat at meetings by using humor. I have a feeling with a little more heat my meetings will be much more productive.
  1. One of the great things about the program was that I made connections with commissioners from all of the country. There are many issues faced by all counties, regardless of which state they are in. It’s an invaluable resource to have these contacts to learn from.
  1. The training left me highly motivated to work with my fellow community leaders to help create a community-wide vision for social and economic growth.

For more information on CLI, visit NACo’s website.