Letter: Lienhoop learned leadership from employer

From: Katy Ritter


I have worked for Blue & Co. LLC for 23 years, my entire professional career in Indiana. My experience is hardly unique. Blue enjoys exceptionally low employee turnover, which greatly benefits its employees and customers. In fact, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce named Blue as one of the 2014 Best Places to Work in Indiana, the sixth consecutive year it won this prestigious award. In addition, Blue was named to the Hall of Fame in recognition of being a Best Place to Work for at least two-thirds of the program’s nine-year history.

I assure you Blue’s low turnover and recognition as a great place to work have nothing to do with luck. The reason is deceptively simple. Jim Lienhoop and the rest of Blue’s leadership live the Golden Rule, not some of the days or most of the days, but every day.

Lienhoop leads by taking a genuine interest in every employee’s professional development and fulfillment. He truly treats others as he would like to be treated. It’s not rocket science, but the proof is in the pudding.

Contrast Lienhoop’s caring and inclusive leadership style with the current mayor’s, which has been described as confrontational. Instead of treating others with respect, her approach is very much, “my way or the highway.” Here, too, the proof is in the pudding. Under the current mayor, 17 city department heads have departed during the past three years. Surely not all of them were ineffective.

To cite just one example, according to a city of Columbus press release regarding the May 22, 2012, swearing-in of Joel Thacker as the new fire chief/director of emergency management, Mayor Kristen Brown was “delighted Thacker agreed to come to Columbus.” She said, “After interviewing many candidates, both internal and external, one stood out heads (sic) and shoulders from all others. His reputation is beyond reproach. His knowledge, leadership skills and experience are particularly vital, as we progress the fire department to include rescue services and emergency services.”

Fast forward to September 28, 2012, when an article in The Republic stated Thacker had submitted his resignation August 30, 2012. What was Brown’s reaction? She said, “I was neither surprised nor disappointed.” You can’t be serious. Apparently Thacker went from the best candidate by far to “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” within three months.

Again, this is just one of many examples. If the city of Columbus was a private employer, would the Indiana Chamber name it among the Best Places to Work in Indiana? Sadly, I think the answer is obvious. The unfortunate result is the taxpayers and citizens of Columbus have lost the benefit of many decades of experience and institutional knowledge. In addition, city employees work very hard, but it’s difficult to give great service when you’re treated as disposable. Few elections offer such a stark choice in leadership styles. This is just one reason I’m voting for Jim Lienhoop.