Exemplary Leader Spotlight: Greg Clifton

Exemplary Leader Spotlight

Each month, we are highlighting one member from the Group Coaching Intensive for Leaders of Leaders. We believe in learning from our community, and this month, Greg Clifton, the City Manager at City of Flagstaff is sharing some wisdom & experience with us.

How long have you been in this role & at this organization?

I have been serving as City Manager in Flagstaff since August 2019.  Prior to that, my career largely involved working for smaller mountain communities in western Colorado, in the profession of municipal management and law.

What are 2 words to describe you & when do you demonstrate those characteristics most? 

Two words that describe me would be strategic and conscientious, and oftentimes they both work in tandem.  Strategic thinking occupies a big part of what we do, individually and collaboratively, in this business of community service.  Our work involves a lot of day-to-day minutiae, but it also includes a good deal of goal achievement over time.  Whether it be the completion of a new bridge with our Capital Projects Team, addressing neighborhood flood mitigation with our Water Services and Public Works Teams, or developing a housing plan with our Community Development Team, all of these endeavors involve a significant element of strategic thinking and prioritization.

If strategic thought defines the process of how we juggle our many tasks, then the attribute of being conscientious should define how we integrate the community interest into that process.  The City of Flagstaff prides itself on transparency, inclusivity, and social equity.  All voices are heard, and the outcomes that define our strategic approaches are always predicated upon doing what is right for the community as a whole.

How has leadership changed you?

Leadership is a journey that never ends, full of twists and turns, and the change it has brought about in my life has been profound.  Communities are so dynamic, and new issues and challenges are always emerging.  We as leaders need to be adaptive to this change and alter our approaches, and perhaps even our perspectives, as necessary.  Consider the events of just the past few years — catastrophic wildfires, significant floods, economic recessions, a global pandemic, and social unrest.  It has all necessitated a high degree of adaptability and change. How has leadership changed me?  I think the quick answer is … resiliency.

Can you give 3 practical leadership suggestions that have helped you to be successful?

First, never stop learning.  Second, embrace change and be a part of it.  Third, understand that leadership is not all about oneself.  Good leadership is the enabling of others to apply themselves beneficially… empowering them to lead.


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