Sometimes straight #039;As#039; are not passing grades

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Most of us realized long ago that the smartest students in class don't always turn out to be the highest achievers in life. Good grades do not necessarily translate to good leadership skills.

This issue will take center stage next month when the City of Ironton attempts to replace retiring Police Chief Bill Garland. The department's four captains - Chris Bowman, James Carey, Dan Johnson and Jerry Leach - all plan to take the test.

On paper, all four look to be qualified candidates - but that is really where our concern begins, because the job is about more than just paperwork. Sometimes leadership cannot be graded on an "A" through "F" scale and we are afraid the flawed promotion system may hinder the process.

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First of all, the city charter dictates that the next chief must come from within the department. Though the police force has many excellent officers, limiting the search pool for such a vital position could be detrimental to finding the best person for the job.

The position of police chief requires people skills, management abilities and forward thinking. These traits may be more necessary than actual police knowledge. Finding the right person to lead the officers will be critical to Ironton's continued growth and success in the years to come.

The next problem comes from the antiquated testing system that appears to reward the smartest student but may not be able to measure leadership qualities and personal character.

The Ironton City Charter stipulates that applicants for the chief of police position must be examined by a process consisting of 30 percent administrative, 30 percent budgetary, 30 percent departmental and 10 percent personal interview. The process may not even include the interview portion meaning that only the test results will matter.

This does not make sense and could conceivable reward the individual who "crams" the best. Personality and leadership skills are such an integral part of this position that the process seems to hinder finding the right man or woman.

The system should be changed now before it is too late.

How many Fortune 500 companies would find their future leaders this way? None, we are guessing.

Ironton's own fortunes may be tied directly into this position so it is crucial the city finds the best candidate, not necessarily the best test taker.