By Seth Kaufman
When you oversee the biggest real estate portfolio in the U.S. and manage 10,000 federal employees, getting a quick, honest opinion on a project or division is essential. That’s why Tracy Stone-Manning, the Director of the federal Bureau of Land Management, includes what she calls “car time” in her cut-to-the-chase toolkit.
“Some of the best time is when I say: “Show me some of the projects that are important to you.’” she told Vanguard Group’s Ken Banta in a recent Leadership Forum. “Then we’re out in the field or in the car talking one-on-one. Sharing a meal after the end of one of those days is where I really begin to hear stories about why people do their work. In the car, when they’re out of earshot of their direct report, I like saying: ”SafeSpace! We’re in a car. What’s the one thing you would change?” And I have heard some pretty interesting answers that are hyper-specific in some cases.”
Stone-Manning, who balances protecting federal land with helping monetize it via leasing, says she learned the value of diving and listening from her old bosses, Senator Tester and Montana Governor Steve Bullock in Montana. “Car time is the best!” she says. “That time between towns is very relaxed, and it’s where people can be really free with each other.”
These thoughts are taken from a dialogue conducted on Sep 29, 2022. Participants may have changed companies and/or titles since then.