Monday, December 28, 2020

Gifford Pinchot On Leadership: Collaboration And Honesty Are The Foundation Of Effective Leadership In Public Office

Pennsylvania’s Gifford Pinchot started his career in forestry after graduating from Yale University in 1889, became the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905 and had a close working relationship with President Theodore Roosevelt, who shared Pinchot’s views on the importance of conservation of natural resources.

He later became head of Pennsylvania's forestry division and served as Governor of Pennsylvania for two terms and remained active in the conservation movement until his death in 1946.

Pinchot not only influenced the way we managed our forests by establishing the first "conservation" ethic, but he also established guidelines for the behavior for public servants. 

Between 1910 and 1920, he developed Pinchot’s Guide to the Behavior of Foresters in Public Office in lectures at the Yale School Of Forestry, which lists 11 maxims to follow in the performance of our duties. 

These people-centric maxims remind us that collaboration and honesty are the foundation of an effective public office.

Pinchot's 11 Maxims

1. A public official is there to serve the public and not run them.

2. Public support of acts affecting public rights is absolutely required.

3. It is more trouble to consult the public than to ignore them, but that is what you are hired for.

4. Find out in advance what the public will stand for. If it is right and they won’t stand for it, ­postpone action and educate them.

5. Use the press first, last, and all the time if you want to reach the public.

6. Get rid of an attitude of personal arrogance or pride of attainment or ­superior knowledge.

7. Don’t try any sly, or foxy politics. A forester is not a politician.

8. Learn tact simply by being absolutely honest and sincere, and by learning to recognize the point of view of the other man and meet him with arguments he will understand.

9. Don’t be afraid to give credit to someone else even when it belongs to you. Not to do so is the sure mark of a weak man, but to do so is the hardest lesson to learn. Encourage others to do things;you may accomplish many things through others that you can’t get done on your single initiative.

10. Don’t be a knocker. Use persuasion rather than force, when possible. [There are] plenty of ­knockers to be had. Your job is to promote unity.

11. Don’t make enemies unnecessarily and for trivial reasons. If you are any good you will make plenty of them on matters of straight honesty and public policy and will need all the support you can get.

These maxims are still posted on the USDA Forest Service website today.

As we start a new year, they should serve as a touchstone for all public servants-- elected and appointed.

For more on Gifford Pinchot, visit the U.S. Forest Service Gifford Pinchot webpage, the Grey Towers National Historic Site webpage (the Pinchot family home in Pike County) and the Grey Towers Heritage Association website.

Pinchot’s conservation work continues through the research and policy programs of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation

Visit the PA Conservation Heritage website to learn more about the people, events and issues that are Pennsylvania’s conservation and environmental heritage.

(Photo: Pinchot and his wife Cornelia camping. Cornelia was a political force in her own right and called a “natural born rebel” who campaigned for Progressive causes; Gifford Pinchot.)

Conservation Leadership:

-- Mira Lloyd Dock On Leadership: The Old Selfish Minds Must Go. Obstructive Reactionaries Must Move On. The Young Are At The Gates

-- Ralph W. Abele On Leadership: Do Your Duty And Fear No One!

-- Rachel Carson On Leadership: The Human Race is Challenged More Than Ever Before To Demonstrate Our Mastery, Not Over Nature, But Of Ourselves

-- Gov. Dick Thornburgh On Leadership: People Living In The Chesapeake Bay States Should Not Have To Wait Another 30-Plus Years For Clean Water

-- Gov. Robert P. Casey On Leadership: Our Problems Have Taught Us That We Cannot Continue The Mindless Practices Of The Past

-- Gov. Tom Ridge On Leadership: I Call For Pennsylvania To Be A Showcase Of Well-Reasoned And Inspired Environmental Leadership 

-- Op-Ed: New Year's Resolutions For Pennsylvania Legislators - Fair Districts PA, PA League Of Women Voters

-- 233 Stories: These Conservation Leaders Gave Us Cleaner Water, Land & Air In 2020! They Deserve Our Thanks, Our Support! 

-- Lebanon Valley College's Commitment To The Environment

[Posted: December 28, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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