It’s a slender paperback, with 71 pages. But the principles it embraces, and the hard-line approach Ballard used in his classes, speak volumes about how the former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps is likely to lead the city of Indianapolis.
Expect a hierarchal approach. The Republican, who was the surprise winner of this month’s mayoral election, clearly expects the buck to stop at his desk.
“People want to be led,” he wrote in “The Ballard Rules.” “They may say they want to do their own thing or that they hate their boss, but the truth is they want to be led by men and women of integrity and competence who possess a positive, forceful leadership style. Never forget this.”
“The Ballard Rules” draws heavily on Ballard’s 23 years in the Marine Corps. After retiring in 2001, he served as North American operations manager for the health care firm Bayer in Indianapolis. He then moved on to teach. Ballard wrote the book to use as a private consultant and corporate coach for new middle managers.
“The Ballard Rules” is no military field manual. It leans on the theories of management gurus he admires from other spheres—such as Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, and Robert Greenleaf, the Terre Haute native who founded the servant leadership movement . . .
For example, “The Ballard Rules” repeatedly emphasizes the need for subordinates to adjust to their superiors when they clash.
“If you disagree on substantive material versus just style, meet with the senior leader and discuss it,” Ballard wrote. “If, after hearing the rationale, you still disagree, it is your responsibility to carry out the senior leader’s wishes as if you completely agreed with his position.”
Career bureaucrats may not respond to Ballard’s authoritarian, goal-oriented ideas, Will said. “He’s used to having a team of people who are trained to be followers. In the Marines, a good leader is partly a good leader because people have been to basic training. They’re trained to be followers,” said Will, associate dean of the university’s business school.
“That is not necessarily the case with a government employee who has been there before you arrived and will be there after you depart. They’re not vested necessarily in your success.”
Similarly, Ballard might have trouble when he faces political resistance from other branches of government, Will said.
Schnitzer's story makes clear the buck will stop at Ballard's desk under his administration. “Two people cannot be in charge,” Ballard wrote. “There is only one head coach, only one president, only one Pope. Even when equivalent employees get together to decide something, it is really their senior leader who approves or disapproves the group decision.”
A particularly encouraging part of Schnitzer's story is his recounting of Ballard's relationship with his students at Indiana Business College. "Students complained about Greg Ballard when he taught college business courses, Schnitzer writes. "The man they called “the Colonel” had strict rules and high expectations." "Frustrated, undergraduates sometimes tried to go over his head." "His boss, Indiana Business College administrator Marc Konesco, encountered them in his office." "But students never got far. Konesco refused to overrule the Colonel’s decisions." “I always said, ‘That’s his classroom,’” recalled Konesco, the college’s vice president of marketing and enrollment. “His style was one where the students didn’t necessarily like him through the class. But when they got done, they always had so much respect for him." "And his evaluations were through the charts.”