Today Mayor Stephen Mandel announced he would not seek a fourth term as Mayor of this great City. Like many, I am grateful and a bit in awe of what he has accomplished. What he accomplished is well known, how he accomplished it however, is the story we should all learn from.
In a time where politics seems to be a polarizing endeavor, he bucked the trend by building a community and council that rallied behind him. He did that with tremendous confidence in himself and his community. The man has presence and the man is a great leader. In the words of another great Edmontonian, Dr. Bob Westbury, Mayor Mandel possessed something he calls the “Royal Jelly”.
What is that Royal Jelly?
To me, it’s the ability to command a room through never wavering confidence, presence and a drive to find consensus. He consistently called out a short-term vision for what it is, and rarely “suffered fools”. Willing to take a position against those thinking that good is good enough, Mayor Mandel was happy to work tirelessly in the back rooms, often sharing the work-load through a number citizen-led taskforces, and always building consensus, especially with his council. The Mayor has a great vision, but that was never enough; he worked tirelessly with his supporters to implement it.
In the past month, I had the pleasure to be in a meeting chaired by the Mayor, and witnessed the magic of his leadership. He took time to compliment and yield the floor to each of his council peers. He is clearly a friend of most everyone he works with, and he is pleased to share a good idea and the limelight with those he trusts. It is reciprocated in the obvious support he found on the many tough decisions this council made to further our city.
In today’s moving speech, the Mayor took the time to recognize those who helped him succeed. It was obvious that he feels his success was because of the support of others, and especially the support he received from his council, citizen-leaders, Premier Ed Stelmach and his Chief of Staff, Patricia Misutka.
As we embark on a new era for Edmonton politics, I can only hope he has left behind a successor who possesses some of that Royal Jelly. It’s a nearly impossible combination of presence, patience, persistence, experience and acumen.
Perhaps no one candidate has that perfect combination, just yet, but we can hope that someone has been watching… and learning.