Are you a Winner or a Learner?


It seems to me that most of us are happy to just be agreeable when it comes to our perspective about how the world works. As individuals we find some sense of mental peace knowing that we think like the rest of a group.

But I’ve always looked at things differently.  Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong.  And when I am wrong, I’m never afraid to admit it.  I forgive myself and accept it as a learning experience.

As Lionel Ritchie recently told a contestant on American Idol, “When you win, you win.  When you lose, you learn.

It’s one thing to allow yourself this flexibility, but as a Manager or Leader do you extend this same flexibility to your team’s innovative ideas?   And, perhaps more importantly, if an idea fails, do you offer the same “forgiveness” for your team as you would for yourself?

Some managers are just comfortable with, “we’ve been doing it this way for years, why change?”  My answer to that is quite simply, “because the world has changed and it will continue to change.”

Our lives have changed.  The way our teams now work has changed. We need to do more with less and be more efficient, all the while facing increased citizen expectations.

Case in point – who would ever have imagined that municipal employees would be working from home and relying on the very technology they were apprehensive about using just two short years ago?

In my experience, municipalities have generally adapted amazingly well to the changes thrown at them in 2020.  Those who have weathered the storm best are those with Managers who know their teams and understand what their teams need to grow.

They challenge the current “thinking” and “doing” at every step and then hand their teams the reigns to drive innovation to keep moving forward – and yes, sometime even “forgiveness” is in order, if the team has lost, but learned.

I agree with Lionel Richie, and from my perspective, we only really lose when we are inhibited by our fear of change, or if we become too comfortable in the belief that things will always remain the same.  But remember what 2020 taught us.

Those municipalities who have the agility to constantly look forward to find new ways to do things or to do things better – and those who have Managers and Leaders who support their teams to do so, will always be the true Winners and Learners!


Susan Shannon, AMCT

Principal, &

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