Virginia at Work: Roanoke City Manager is a leader who inspires

Local News

Each month, in Virginia at Work, we introduce you to a leader who inspires.
They inspire their own teams, and inspire all of us to do better, as we learn from their success.

Chris Morrill, Roanoke’s City Manager, is the leader we recognize this month.

With 1600 employees, Morrill realizes the importance of being a leader, not just a boss.

He says, “You listen, that you care, they will play a role in deciding where the organization will go.  People want to feel that engagement.”

Transformational Conversation is a talent Morrill has mastered according to local executive consultant, Lynda McNutt Foster.

“Facilitating transformational conversations is Chris’ superstar power. When I say transformational conversations, there’s three levels of conversations. One is transactional, task oriented. The second is transitional. You believe in one way and I believe in another. The hardest conversation to facilitate is one where I listen to you, you feel heard. I then speak. I feel heard.  We come up with something that could have never occurred without both of us having input in it,” says Foster.

Each leader, Foster has found, is best when they are authentic.

She adds, “I think the most important thing a leader can do is find their own personal genius zone.  And stay within it. What Chris Morrill has done is he is just himself, he’s real.”

Morrill says when he was 28 years old, he was appointed budget director in Savannah, Georgia.  He adds, “I had a reputation of being easy going, so I thought, I have to come in and lay down the hammer, rules, let people know, and it just wasn’t me.  It wasn’t authentic. So quickly, I realized this just wasn’t working for me or for the rest of the staff.”

Foster says leadership is about learning.

“I think one of the things Chris does we can all take notes on is the fact that I have never run into him  when he hasn’t just read a book a magazine article, hasn’t just come from a conference, where he’s constantly learning. There’s no leaders out there that are innovating, leading teams forward, leading entire cities forward that aren’t continuous lifelong learners. There’s no end to it, says Foster, the CEO of Cortex Leadership Consulting.

Morrill shares some advice for fellow leaders:

  • Recognize you have faults
  • Realize you can’t do it alone
  • Build a strong team with diverse talents

“Sometimes they don’t recognize their own skills and talents. There might be a silent leader in the room, so to draw them in, helps the entire team. But they don’t realize that so a leader has to do that,” says Morrill.

When people feel engaged, as if they are part of the bigger picture, then a leader can do exactly what he’s tasked with, and for Chris Morrill, that is moving the city of Roanoke into the future.

Make sure to watch Good Day Virginia Monday morning. Lynda McNutt Foster and Chris Morrill will join the team to discuss leadership and how to best move your organization forward.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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