Sean R. Stegall believes the world can be changed one community at a time by “creating the local government that doesn’t exist.” As Cary, NC’s CEO, he’s a catalyst for change in a place where not only is nothing wrong, but by every measure, everything is nearly perfect.

With the support of the elected Council, Sean and Cary’s staff are co-creating a new organizational culture that realigns people, processes, and purposes for an ever-changing future. They’re breaking or discarding much of what made Cary great today and replacing it with new ways of thinking and doing – all in an effort to “keep Cary Cary,” that is, to keep Cary at the top of the arc by preparing Cary – the government and the community it serves – for an uncertain future.

Learn more about Cary’s human endeavor.

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Local Decisions Are Best Made Locally

We have all been given a front-row seat to watch the states do battle with the federal government, as governors challenge the President – and visa-versa – when it comes to who knows best and who possesses the highest legal authority in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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All Hands Meeting: The Approach


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The Ripple Effect

In early 2018, a cross-departmental group of employees embarked on a journey together to learn and discuss leadership concepts foundational to Cary’s new and evolving culture. The leadership principles that Sean Stegall brought with him to Cary stemmed from “Leadership on the Line” by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky. This group was an attempt at a culture and leadership program with a goal to prepare participants to apply the principles of adaptive leadership to their everyday work.

What makes Cary unlike any other local government is that we hire the person, not the position. I love our culture of developing the whole self. I appreciate that Sean encourages authenticity. I am not showing up every day to complete tasks. I am showing up to grow, take calculated risks, and dig deep on how we can better serve the citizens of Cary.

Morgan Mansa, Housing and Community Development Manager, Town of Cary

We brought Sean to Cary, in part, to help us authentically improve our standing with our neighbors. That could only happen with changes to our own thinking, our own perspectives, and our entire organization’s culture. Sean’s success with us comes from the relationships he builds and creating the conditions where we can all be successful. That’s my idea of leading, and I encourage everyone to learn more about what we’re doing in Cary, NC.  

Harold Weinbrecht, Mayor of Cary, NC

Sean Stegall is one of a handful of city managers nationally who has embraced the changing nature of local government as an opportunity to empower the organization’s talent. The inevitable ambiguity associated with this cultural organizational change has motivated sean where others might be stymied by it.

John Nalbandian, Professor Emeritus, University of Kansas


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