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Leadership in Challenging Times

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As utility professionals, all of us comprehend the unique characteristics of our industry and understand the challenging nature of our business. What we sometimes forget is how important effective leadership is in a risk-filled industry. This presentation will explore the unique demands leaders face in the water/wastewater industry as well as the importance of effective leadership in meeting those demands.

While we share many common challenges with other industries, such as the impending wave of baby boomer retirements and a highly-mobile workforce, the wastewater industry is, in many ways, very different. For example, the civil service system, with its archaic ways and disproportionate influence on the way we do business, can cause tremendous challenges and must be worked with or around. Our industry is highly capital-intensive, requiring constant attention in terms of planning and funding but without the profit motive driving it. Our industry is marked by inefficient, bureaucratic work processes. We deal with the politics of elected or appointed boards and city councils. There are the regulatory challenges driven by one or more bureaucratic agencies who may work in tandem or opposition. Add it all up and the need for effective leadership is clear.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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