Burbank City Manager Discusses Qualities, Challenges of Leadership
Since change is a constant, Ken Pulskamp believes those seeking to be future leaders need to embrace lifelong learning and recognize societal shifts in order to be truly effective.
“To reject change is to reject tomorrow,” Pulskamp said during a recent classroom presentation at the University of La Verne’s San Fernando Valley Regional Campus.
Pulskamp, interim City Manager for the City of Burbank, has more than three decades of municipal experience during his career in local government administration. He shared his knowledge and insights with students in Professor Nelly Kazman’s Leadership for the Future class (BUS 586).
Meeting the challenges of the day is the primary role of leaders. Pulskamp explained how, over the past 30 years, the major challenges have risen from the transformation of society by factors such as increased knowledge, technological change and demographic shifts. Such challenges represent the new context in which leadership is being practiced.
According to Pulskamp, there are six qualities and six actions that separate leaders from followers. The traits are integrity, deep understanding of one’s business, consistency, willingness to admit mistakes, ability to listen, and decisiveness. The actions are creating a sense of excitement, encouraging participation, developing a shared vision, cultivating an environment of teamwork, fostering a sense of urgency, and accomplishing tangible results.
Pulskamp’s understanding of leadership roles and requirements stems from his own professional experience. Prior to taking on his role with the City of Burbank, he spent 10 years as City Manager for the City of Santa Clarita. In 2010 he served as president of the League of California Cities’ City Managers Department.
In 2007 Pulskamp was presented the City Manager Award for the Advancement of Diverse Communities by the League of California Cities. Three years later he received the league’s inaugural Wes McClure Award of Distinction, which annually honors a city manager for leadership, transparency and creativity.
Pulskamp, who holds a Master of Public Administration degree, also has more than 25 years of experience as a facilitator, lecturer, and author.
Describing public service as an “honorable and noble profession,” Pulskamp encouraged students in the class to explore job opportunities in the public sector.
“I feel good how I spent my professional life and the difference I have made in individual and family lives,” Pulskamp said.