The boulder of Boulder – Keith Petrachevitz

Keith Petrachevitz is the real boulder of The City of Boulder, Colorado.

He is not the CEO of a fortune 500 company, or the peacemaker the world is hoping for. He is an upper mid level manager for Boulder Colorado’s Parks and Recreation Department. Through his years of service to The City of Boulder, his leadership has shown to be effective and well received.  Lets take a closer look at what makes his leadership style effective and desirable.  His leadership style has been analysed via the traits and skills methods.

The traits approach to analyzing a leader is one of the first developed methods for researching leadership. It is the style many people think of in their head when they think back to what made a leader they are familiar with great. These first theories are referred to as the “great man” approach because it focuses on inborn traits a leader poses. It serves as the basic building block for leadership research. Over 100 years of research into this theory has led to an almost never ending list of traits one can poses. It has in modern times been boiled down to a 5 trait approach known as the five factor personality model. The 5 traits in the model are: extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, neuroticism and agreeableness.

The skills approach was developed as a response to the weakness’ of the traits approach. Like the trait approach it focuses almost entirely on the leader as an individual. When discussing the skills approach “we shift our thinking from a focus on personality characteristics, which usually are viewed as innate and largely fixed, to an emphasis on skills and abilities that can be learned and developed”(Northhouse). Robert Katz developed this method with the idea in mind that a leader could be created, not just born. In modern times we used a revised model by Mumford and associates. There are 5 parts to the moderns skills model: competencies, individual attributes, leadership outcomes, career experiences and environmental  influences.

Viewed under the lens of the traits approach we can see what makes Keith a strong leader in his field. He displays many traits of conscientiousness (dependability). Through his actions he shows himself to be hardworking, planning for the future, thoughtful and reliable. He carries a checklist and calendar with him everywhere he goes to ensure he knows what needs to be done and when. Keith also displays high levels of agreeableness as a leader. This is something anyone who meets him will pick up on right away. When he walks into a room he greets each person individually and is very well liked. He takes time to listen to every staff member with a problem and does what he can to help. He also scores high in the category of extraversion. He is outspoken, decisive and self-confident. This is the most important trait for a leader to poses. He scores low the in neuroticism, which is good for a leader. This is the trait accountable for high emotions, fast decision making and being self conscious. Keith has room to improve on his openness, as he can fall victim to getting into a routine and appreciate the old ways to do things rather than a newer possibly superior method.

Keith’s leadership abilities are farther displayed when analysed under the guise of the skills approach. Competencies are a leader’s problem solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge. Keith does well in this area and continues to improve as he regularly attends workshops and meetings for his field.  His leadership outcomes are undeniable when you look into his past. In his 20+ years working for the organization he was involved and lead many projects such a pool renovations, building renovations, program overhauls, computer system replacements, the list goes on. His leadership brought the organization through these experiences for the better. His career experiences are both a strength and weakness for him in his current position. He was worked for the City of Boulder since he was in high school. This means his career experience is limited to just this organization. Because of this he knows every detail and every employee within the parks and rec department. If he chooses to go elsewhere in the future this could be something he must overcome. Like all leaders he is subject to environmental influences. Recently there have been budget cuts to the parks and recreation department. This is outside of Keith’s control, but his leadership made the best of a bad situation. He was able to make cuts and save money in the right places to keep almost all of the organizations programming running until the next budget. 

Keith displays many of the traits and skills that make an effective leader. He has room for improvement in a few minor areas. His high levels of self confidence, social intelligence and experience in his organization prepare him to be an ideal leader. If he continues to attend workshops and analyse his own leadership I have no doubt he can continue to improve his leadership abilities. He is someone all leaders should aspire to be more like.


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