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Managing Change With Grace

Myrtle Beach City Transformation – The Learning Curve

Why Brenda Bethune is the perfect Myrtle Beach Mayor for this time in history.

Many newly elected politicians get a honeymoon.  Such was not the case for Mayor Brenda Bethune. In just over one week in office, she has certainly taken her share of “fix it now” comments from frustrated local Myrtle Beach merchants and residents at meetings as well as online.

Is this fair?  The fact that these residents feel safe enough to now vent their frustrations is certainly a sign of community health.  Mrs. Bethune is minutes into the job, however, and is currently dealing with the reality of trust transference.


Like Mayor Rhodes, President Nixon Left Office With Low Approval Ratings

A little known concept in organizational change and political change elections is a term called Trust Transference.  In short,  the incoming new CEO or elected official comes in at the general level of institutional trust that the last administration went out with.  Examples of such include the period of Presidential leadership that began with Johnson to Nixon to Ford to Carter.   Mr. Carter inherited a country with a low level of institutional trust for government.  He would lose the next election in a landslide defeat.

In contrast, Washington to Adams to Jefferson was an era of uncertainty, but hope and higher trust transference in leadership.

What Mayor Bethune Immediately Faces

Learning Curve
The learning curve shows, at first conditions get worse, while new strategies are put in place.

This is a well known law in all change.  It is called the LEARNING CURVE.  Given time and trust,  Mayor Bethune will be a master at managing this.  The graph above is not about the learning curve Mayor Bethune will experience adjusting to her new job.  The curve actually relates to city-wide officials, administrators, and staff adjusting to new transparent and more accountable systems of government moving forward.

This will also require, in fact, a cultural shift for those who work in government as well.

IN SHORT,  if the last administration had a comprehensive strategy,  it was largely unknown.  This means former leaders either didn’t have one, or the strategy was a well hidden agenda.

The success Mayor Bethune can expect is calculated by this formula.  Success = Effort/Resistance to change.  Mayor Bethune is likely not concerned about the resistance to change she might experience from the residents,  but rather the internal governmental operations which have long been acclimated to certain cultural and unspoken expectations.   No one really likes change, especially bureaucrats.


As any C.E.O. of any organization knows,  you can not have structure until you have a clearly formed comprehensive strategy.   That strategy defines what systems you put in place, what people you hire to meet goals, and what accountability structures you put in place to meet those goals and stay on goal.

As to a hidden strategy or hidden agenda,  it is clear that the residents of Myrtle Beach will no longer tolerate such.

Bethune with fans
Mayor Brenda Bethune models excellence


In his parting comments Mayor Rhodes documented what the “Myrtle Beach insider’s club” of cast looks like.   Clicking on this link, some of you may find his comments arrogant and upsetting.  Culturally,  this is another challenge just ahead for our mayor.  Myrtle Beach must embrace our new neighbors from the north and include them in all facets of our community.


For those of you who do not understand why this is so important to the health of our town and our personal health as well, turn on the volume here and get ready for a true eye opener. 



About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area.David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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