Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Driving Change Panel: Cecconi Models Behavior -- and Takes the Long View

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Driving Change Panel: Cecconi Models Behavior -- and Takes the Long View

Article excerpt

MinnPost has assembled a panel of leadership experts and scholars, who are rotating in commenting on each of the examples of leadership profiled in our series, "Driving Change: A Lens on Leadership." Today, Laura Bloomberg, the executive director for the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota, comments on aspects of leadership presented in "The advocate: Mary Cecconi educates parents, legislators to help them support education."

When heading a grass-roots organization, leaders lead through "presence and participation," which is a fancy way of saying they show up, know what they're talking about and stand firm in their beliefs while still listening to other people.

That's how Laura Bloomberg describes Mary Cecconi, the president of Parents United for Public Schools. In addition to being the executive director for the Center of Integrated Leadership at the University of Minnesota and the interim associate dean at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Bloomberg is also a longtime Parents United board member and has known Cecconi for years.

"When Mary was on the school board in Stillwater, I was on the school board in Mahtomedi," Bloomberg said. "I've been watching her since the Apple Computer controversy until now, and it's been a very interesting journey."

'An excellent connector'

Bloomberg has no hesitation when she ticks off the ways in which Cecconi is a leader.

"She's an excellent connector of people and information. She doesn't withhold information, and that's a strong leadership trait for her."

Bloomberg says that in political settings, people tend to use information as currency. Cecconi has turned that philosophy on its head, Bloomberg said. Cecconi knows the more widely she shares information, the better off Minnesota parents are.

"She knows the more transparent she can make an organization, the more she can move people. You see this often in great leaders but not often in leaders who only have one tool in their toolkit because hoarding knowledge consolidates their power. …

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