Redefine your role
It takes a special person to drag a job into the 21st century kicking and screaming.
Carl Austin-Behan is one of those people.
“I think I managed to highlight the relevance of the Lord Mayor by doing things differently.” @CarlAustinBehan #CivicLeader Click To Tweet
Yes, Carl you did. And that’s why you’re the Lord Mayor of the Month.
Carl brought a fresh, new approach to the office. He asked the questions that a lot of people just don’t ask.
Who should be Lord Mayor?
Carl noticed a pattern that many will be familiar with. You take a long serving councillor who is nearing retirement and put a chain around the neck. Then you tell that person to go off and have some fun, if any money is raised for charity, then well done!
Did Carl buy into the assumption that Lord Mayors should be like that? Did he buy into the assumption that all the people of Manchester deserve, is a dignitary on a swansong?
“I just thought no, I’m going to challenge that.” @CarlAustinBehan #CivicLeader Click To Tweet
And challenge that he did. For my money that’s what makes Carl stand out. Who cares if he’s young, who cares if he’s gay, he stood out because he challenged the assumption that civic office is a reward for long service.
What should the Lord Mayor wear?
Yes, it’s easy to point to the pink robes Carl wore for the Manchester Pride parade and that is part of challenging what civic leaders wear but there’s much more to it.
“These rules and regulations where created so far back and we need to bring it into the modern day.” @CarlAustinBehan #CivicLeader Click To Tweet
How does it help us if we dress like we’re from the Victorian era, or worse still the middle ages? People already think politicians are out of touch. If we dress up like a museum piece we’re just conforming their opinion that we are just not relevant to their lives?
“There is nothing wrong with the Lord Mayor turning up in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt” @CarlAustinBehan #CivicLeader Click To Tweet
The first engagement with the other civic leaders from the boroughs of Greater Manchester Carl arrived in his more casual style. The other civic leaders where all dressed very smartly. After a few engagements they started to dress down a bit and accepted the fact that not every event needed a tie.
If you need an example that you don’t have to dress super smart for every event, then Carl is it.
What should the Lord Mayor do?
If being the Lord Mayor is a swansong then it doesn’t help the council. It doesn’t help to build an ongoing relationship with the people it serves.
“You can’t spend a whole year building relationships to then just disappear” @CarlAustinBehan #CivicLeader Click To Tweet
It’s true, if you aren’t using the relationships you’ve built and the skills you’ve learnt for your council then at best you haven’t made good use of the civic office’s budget. At worst you’ve wasted tax payers’ money.
But most of all Carl focused on getting out there and meeting people. Of course, he worked hard. But more than that he was engaging, he was friendly, he met people on their own level. He was a great advert for the council and the Lord Mayor.
“The amount of people that didn’t even know we had a Lord Mayor” @CarlAustinBehan #CivicLeader Click To Tweet
Thanks to Carl, they do now.
You’ve got to have passion
Above everything else what really shines out from Carl’s year in office is his passion. He cares deeply. Yes, he cares about Manchester. Yes, he cares about equality, but he also cares about civic leadership.
“You’ve all got such a vital, vital role to play in your community.” @CarlAustinBehan #CivicLeader Click To Tweet
When you go out into your community and you are confronted with assumptions think of Carl. Be brave, challenge them!
Become a link in the chain
If you want to find out more about Carl, you can watch him talking about life as a civic leader in an amazingly frank interview. All you need to do is register here:
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