Updated: Sep 7, 2021
I recently read an article discussing “Issues That Keep Local Government Officials Awake at Night.” The five items listed as most top of mind are:
Community Growth (43%)
Strategic Planning / Council’s Vision (42%)
The Budget (42%)
Community Planning Issues (41%) and 5) Increasing Citizen Engagement (40%)
First, let me be completely transparent – local government is not an arena that I am currently directly involved in / nor is it an arena that I plan to formally join in the future. I cannot imagine the pressures and challenges that elected officials face as they strive to serve the residents of their local communities.
Having said that, it was a bit concerning to know that almost 50% of elected officials are losing sleep over the areas that I think we would consider “part of their job.” So, the topics are important – the decision-makers are overwhelmed (my word) isn’t there a way to fix this? The first municipal election was held in 1883. Have our politicians been losing sleep for the past? Well, the reality is that stressors will always show up, but honestly, there must be a way to minimize them. Isn’t there? What if we took more time understanding the elected officials first, then supported them in understanding how they could utilize their strengths as a united team so that those that had strengths in certain areas would be able to elevate the Council, while minimizing the potential negative impact that may be a result of some areas of development – or areas that are more commonly known as weaknesses.
Here is a hypothetical scenario to prove or disprove the potential benefits of understanding personality types related to elected officials.
Each of the nine elected officials completed a behavioural assessment. The findings of the assessment were as follows:
Now let’s reflect on some of the tasks that are causing elected official’s stress:
Influencing businesses moving to the community. (Pioneer) Approach strategic players with compelling reasoning to relocate or expand.
Planning and Organizing a Marathon (Cooperator) Highly patient in planning out details and articulate in structuring events.
Strategic Planning / Council’s Vision:
Long-term big picture thinking (Specialist) Developing a roadmap today for the longer-term thinking, including being aware and mindful of constraints along the way.
Harmonious vision (Enthusiast) Initiating the courageous conversations to explore and agree to the longer-term overall vision that the Council is striving for and enabling new board members to get excited and embrace the existing vision.
Fiscal responsibility (Specialist) Understanding and aligning the funds to balance short- and long-term perspectives and allow for transparency to the public.
Strategic long-term thinking (Administrator) Balancing the need for growth in the community while being open with the taxpayers.
Visionary (Pioneer) Building out the long-term strategy around the ongoing planning for the community and establishing realistic and sustainable shorter-term milestones.
Taxpayer representation (Enthusiast) Gaining support and creating excitement amongst taxpayers to embrace conversation and action around transportation, green space, etc.
Provide citizen’s opportunity to interact (Enthusiast) Gathering public input and encouraging opportunities to engage with elected officials, fellow citizens and businesses within the community.
Commitment to Vision (Pioneer) Translating the ideas from the public and translating it into actionable items will increase overall engagement.
Public servants come to the table with a variety of profile types. The elected officials would be well served to reflect and self-awareness as to what the strengths are that they bring and lean into those. In the same breath, understand that different individuals bring different strengths. Aligning main areas of focus to those strengths can allow for an elevation in the contribution to the community that you serve.
Understanding your personality profile could very well equal a good night’s sleep.
Laurie Fenske is a trusted advisor to Strategic Steps. She runs a multi-faceted leadership and executive coaching practice in Sherwood Park, Alberta. You can reach her at 587.782.8669 or email@example.com. You can learn more about her services by visiting www.fenskecoaching.com.