3 Questions with Bob Bush
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3 Questions with Bob Bush

In a series of dialogues about leadership in our community

I've been thinking about ways to energize you through our email list.  And, when meeting with some and discussing the direction of our discussion, I floated the idea of engaging with some of our local city/county officials regarding some thoughts on leadership, etc.  My guinea pig was Bob Bush, who's always been accommodating and supportive of our program.

For those of you who don't know, here's Bob's brief answer to my introductory question, "What's your current work in our local community both as a businessperson and elected official?"

I’m currently the co-owner and General Manager of City Beverage which distributes beer and other beverages in central Kansas. I am also finishing up my final of an 8 year term on the Hutchinson City Council. I’ve served as the Mayor twice and have been the city’s representative on economic development issues for most of that time. And, I have served on too many Boards to count!

Now for the three questions: 
1) Our program defines leadership as "mobilizing people to do difficult work."  How have you seen this definition at work in our community? 

The best example I’ve experienced was the top-to-bottom coordination of multiple parties to land the Siemens facility. It is almost inconceivable to really understand the hundreds of hours devoted to the relatively simple process of getting Siemens about one-half mile of rail car siding and track for transporting their nacelle engines. However, the key to our success on this piece of the puzzle and the entire project was that every government and for-profit decision-maker had one key thought “this project is not going to fail because of me”! And because each of us accepted the project’s goal on a personal level we became committed to doing whatever was necessary to complete the project for the betterment of our community. The Wiley building project is another great example of what Hutch is really all about.
As a side note we just lost a 150 employee company because one rail company demanded too much compensation for using their tracks. I think this underscores my point about how everyone has to see the project’s success as a personal mission.

2) How does having a clear purpose flesh itself out in your life? 

I rarely work on anything where there is “clear purpose” but then my strength is to see both sides of any argument. For me a sense of clear purpose enables me to steadfastly promote my belief regardless of time, cost, hurdles, and my colleagues or personal friends support. For example, I believed we needed a park in the Northeast District and promoted this as a cornerstone for my election bid in 2007. I brought this issues up numerous times over my years in office and after 7 years and with lots of help from private donors, local residents, city staff/officials, and an enormous amount of luck we now have Orchard Park on 43rd.

3) How do you work to build bridges between parties that disagree in our community? 

When I see parties in conflict I first ensure each side hears the others arguments and at least gains some basic understanding as to why they are being opposed. If you can’t get at least some acknowledgement of the other’s position then you’re wasting your time. However, if you can get some insight in to the other positions then you can start working the two groups to consensus or at least some level of common purpose.

Thanks to Bob for his time and being the first one out of the gate.  Look for more of these in the future.  I hope it encourages you in the sometimes difficult work of mobilizing people.  Have a great week.


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