George Wolfe truly has a heart for the community. George has been the Manager of Lower Paxton Township, a community of 47,000 residents in the greater Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area, since 1990 and Manager of the Township’s Authority since 1995.
He began his career as a Planner but made the switch to Manager when he realized that his desire to have a greater impact on the community could be better accomplished with the new position. George’s strive to improve the community around him is the reason I decided to write about him for my ongoing series of profiling Servant Leaders.
George understands the need for government and community to work together in order to accomplish community growth. He wants the community to understand that the Township is there for the people. Though difficult to engage everyone in a community of this size, George and his coworkers do their best to educate the residents about possible opportunities to get involved.
An example of a successful program is Possibility Place. Possibility Place was a citizen-generated project for which Lower Paxton Township provided assistance. In 2006, 1,500 volunteers united together to build “A Playground for ALL Children.”
In order to effectively reach and encourage growth in the community, George properly equips those working alongside and under him. He is proud to announce that with the exception of one employee, everyone in a leadership role has ten or more years of service with the Township. Because of this promotion from within, the leaders of the Township are well experienced.
This experience truly benefits everyone within the organization because interaction between less-experienced workers and these experienced leaders is strongly encouraged. The hope is that the talent of those in supporting roles will continually develop so they can steadily increase the positive impact that they too have on the community.
George understands the value of a quality employee. He is very particular when hiring. Of course, no one is perfect when it comes to finding the right person for the job. This doesn’t have to be a problem but often becomes one if the leaders are fearful of the process of letting an employee go. Many tend to shy away from the confrontation. But not George. Although not a process he enjoys, George understands the importance of removing those who underperform.
Not only does it improve morale, but it also sends a message to other employees as well. Allowing underperforming employees to continue working contaminates the workplace and harms the good employees. When addressed, documented, and disciplined correctly, requests for removal won’t be overlooked. Though it may sound harsh, George knows that this is what is best for the employees and ultimately for the community as well.
Now, leadership such as this certainly isn’t found in all government entities, but with a servant leader such as George, it makes it easy for those who work with him to do what they do and pays off in the form of community growth as well. Bill Hawk, Lower Paxton Township Board Chairman had only positive comments to say on George’s behalf. “George Wolfe is an exceptional individual. He is very knowledgeable and dedicated beyond all good measure. He keeps his Board fully informed, follows through, and is well respected by other township directors because of how well-versed he is in township matters. In a phrase, he is a ‘true professional.’ We are delighted to have him here. I can’t toot his horn enough.”