ICMA University / Professional Development / Training & Workshops / Workshops

Bring ICMA University Workshops to You

ICMA is committed to providing workshops that are affordable, accessible, and designed to meet the specific needs of local government professionals. Each workshop is based on the Practices for Effective Local Government Management. By partnering with localities, state associations, and universities in the delivery of these programs, we are able to reduce travel costs and provide high-quality workshops.

Below is a listing of workshops you can bring to your local government, state association meeting, or other setting.

Recently added workshops: Look for the  icon_new icon.

Check the current ICMA Calendar of Events for upcoming offerings.


Half-day workshops: $3,600 for states with a signed affiliation agreement with ICMA for up to 50 participants. Non-affiliated states pay an additional fee. Reductions in the price of the workshop are possible when costs are shared by a state association.

Full-day workshops (available on request): $4,950 for states with a signed affiliation agreement with ICMA for up to 50 participants. Non-affiliated states pay an additional fee.

Contact workshops@icma.org for details.



from typewriters to ipads: communication across generations icon_new

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials - in organizations there is an unprecedented blending of generations resulting in communication challenges. This session will identify continuing trends in the workforce and subsequent impacts on the workplace, examine the unprecedented changes younger workers are creating in organizations, and what organizations can utilize to recruit and retain employees from all generations. (Practice Group 7- Technological Literacy)

Managing in Difficult Political Environments

Through the use of interactive media, real-life situations, and group discussion, this workshop will explore the challenges faced by public sector managers when local politics reaches the breaking point and the manager becomes the focus of attacks from elected officials and citizens. Workshop participants will learn to recognize the warning signs of community unrest, gain insight into the manager’s unique role, examine personal and organizational costs, review the media’s role-for good and ill, and put the “fun” back in dysfunctional. (Practice Groups: 2 - Policy Facilitation and 16 - Media Relations

The “Performance Dividend” of Professional Management: How You Can Demonstrate It Using Performance Measurement

Reflecting a core belief of all ICMA members, Executive Director Bob O’Neill emphasizes that there is a “performance dividend” for professionally managed communities. But, is this just an article of faith or can you point to specifics in your community that demonstrate this? Are you measuring performance in your community? And, even if you are, are you using those measures to drive organizational effectiveness and improvement? Do you develop council agendas around performance outcomes? Are performance targets key components to your budget? Do you report the performance of your organization to your residents? Can you demonstrate the linkage between the performance of your departments, work teams, and employees and the overall performance goals for your community? This workshop will provide you with concrete steps you can take so that you can provide a confident “yes” to each of these questions, no matter what size your community or your level of financial resources. (Practice Groups: 1 - Staff Effectiveness; 2 - Policy Facilitation; 3 - Functional and Operational Expertise and Planning; 5 - Quality Assurance; 6 - Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity, and Innovation; 10 - Budgeting; 11 - Financial Analysis; and 12 - Human Resources Management) 

Essential Management Skills

In this thought-provoking and challenging workshop, the case-study method will be used to focus on relations between elected officials and managers, ethics, and the essential skills of problem analysis, decision-making, and persuasion. Each participant will receive copies of three cases from the textbook Managing Local Government: Cases in Decision Making and must read the cases prior to attending the workshop. (Practice Groups: 2 - Policy Facilitation; 15 - Presentation Skills; and 17 - Integrity 


Developing and maintaining effective relationships between the chief administrator, elected officials and staff is perhaps the most important and difficult task that faces local government executives.  The variety and ever changing nature of personal, political and organizational dynamics can challenge even the most experienced leader. Managers must have a sound personal foundation as well as effective organizational and governance systems in place to provide the best chance for the leadership team cohesiveness. This workshop will explore the challenges that face local government leadership teams, the importance of role definition, the use of governance models, and the approaches that managers can employ to address leadership team dysfunction.(Practice Groups 1 – Staff Effectiveness and 2- Policy Facilitation) 


high performing organizations


Regardless of the size or location of our organizations, we are all challenged by the same types of issues—increased demands for services, reduced revenues, negative perceptions of government and disengaged workers.  This workshop will challenge you to think differently about how your organization can work!  Key concepts of the High Performance Organization Model to be discussed include “Developing the New Government Employee,” “Doing the Work of Leadership at all Levels of the Organization,”  Deciding your Leadership Philosophy,” “Focusing on both the Vision and the Culture of your Organization,”  and “Building Capacity through Employee Teams.” The program will afford participants opportunities for small group discussion and encourage thinking about “next steps” to move their organizations toward “higher performance.”  (Practice Groups: 1-Staff Effectiveness and 6- Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity, and Innovation)


citizen Engagement

CitIzen Surveys: what, why and howicon_new

Representatives from National Research Center, Inc. — founders of The National Citizen Survey™— will be on hand to share their expertise and answer questions as you explore the wisdom behind conducting a citizen survey as well as tips and tricks to make your next survey the most effective one yet. Most importantly, we’ll address the steps you need to take once the survey is finished to ensure that your citizens stay engaged and the data you collect is useful. (Practice Groups: 3 - Functional and Operational Expertise and Planning; 5 – Performance Measurement/Management)


Democratic skills for public leaders icon_new

The greatest challenge facing public managers today is the sea of change in citizens’ perceptions and expectations of their government, and their interest in providing a contribution to local governance. How should leaders navigate the many online arenas in which they communicate with the public? How should managers work with staff to facilitate transparency and responsiveness throughout the organization? How should they measure the success of public participation efforts? How can they collaborate with private sector and nonprofit organizations to strengthen civic infrastructure? This session will provide an overview of the mindset behind successful engagement strategies; engagement tools, evaluation approaches, and leadership techniques that public managers need to manage and to be successful in our hyper-informed, cyber-connected, citizen-centered era. Practice Group: 8 - Democratic Advocacy and Citizen Participation)

Gov 2.0: What public leaders need to know icon_new

From "Open Data" to "Gov2.0" to "hackathons" to "online engagement platforms," technology is fundamentally changing the relationship between citizens and their governments. Unfortunately, our understanding of what different terms mean and what technologies should be used for particular enterprises hasn’t caught up with all of these changes. In this fast-paced and interactive seminar public leaders will learn:

• How to understand the “new vocabulary”
• How your purpose determines your technology
• How to think like an online marketer
• Whether online engagement=public engagement?

(Practice Group 8 - Democratic Advocacy and Citizen Participation)  

Local Government customer service PROGRAM

Providing residents with an excellent customer service experience can generate improved community support and greater citizen engagement.  ICMA has developed a local government service program that can be customized based on the needs of the individual community.  Among the units offered are:

•        Defining Customer Service

•        Differences between Customer Service in Local Government and Private Sector

•        Customer Service as an Experience

•        Key Skill Sets for Customer Service

•        Dealing with Difficult or Angry Customers

•        Leadership for Customer Service

•        Internal Customer Service 

•        Technology for Better Customer Service

 (Practice Groups: 1-Staff Effectiveness, 4 -Citizen Service, and 14 -Advocacy and Interpersonal Communication).

Making Your Local Government a High-Engagement Organization: A whole-team approach icon_new

Local governments often engage the public in one-off, single-issue activities, with each city department working alone. This approach to public engagement is time-consuming, inefficient, and hard to sustain. This workshop session will describe how public managers and staff in the areas of public safety, sustainability and economic development, finance and budgeting, and technology can work together to produce cross-sector, long-term public engagement plans. It will combine interactive presentations with small-group exercises, along with time for managers to explore next steps for their municipalities. (Practice Group 8 - Democratic Advocacy and Citizen Participation)

maximizing survey resultsicon_new

To be successful, you need to find out what your members are thinking and they need to know that you are listening. But once the results are in, how can you make the most of distribution channels to ensure that the circle of communication is completed? More importantly, how can you ensure that response rates and satisfaction ratings get and remain strong? Join representatives from National Research Center, Inc. — founders of The National Citizen Survey™— to learn more about what some communities from across the country are doing to maximize results and chart a plan that helps YOU communicate the data in a way that makes sense. (Practice Groups: 4 – Citizen Service; 6 - Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity, and Innovation; 16 – Media Relations)

moving forward with dataicon_new

As a city or county manager, you’re up to your ears in data. But do you have any idea how to put that information to work for you? This workshop will address each of the Six E’s of Data Driven Communities – Envision, Engage, Earmark, Educate, Enact, and Evaluate – as revealed through ten years of work with more than 300 communities. We’ll look at case studies for success and work through a group planning process with your own data to determine the best path forward. (Practice Groups: 3 - Functional and Operational Expertise and Planning; 5 – Performance Measurement/Management; 6 - Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity, and Innovation)

Online Engagement: Developing a Long-Term Planicon_new

Under pressure from citizens who want more ways of connecting with government, many municipalities have rushed into online engagement, seizing on a single tool, platform, or consultant organization without first developing an overall engagement plan. This workshop will help public managers clarify their goals, take stock of their engagement assets, and make informed choices about online engagement. It will combine interactive presentations with small-group exercises, along with time for managers to explore next steps for their municipalities. (Practice Group 8 - Democratic Advocacy and Citizen Participation)

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT: The Vital Leadership Skill in Difficult Times

As cities, regions, and school districts face unprecedented decisions on issues ranging from budgets to land use, a growing number of public leaders are finding new ways at arriving at policy solutions—more participatory and transparent. Previously, these conclusions were reached through bargaining at the “stakeholder” level, but the size and scope of today’s budget deficits and longstanding planning battles, are pushing some leaders to “look out” to their residents rather than “look in” to their own capabilities. This can be a nervous undertaking, but managed effectively, public involvement on important decisions can lead to more creative, acceptable solutions. In this practical and participatory three hour seminar, you will learn:

  • The “Civic Engagement Spectrum”: From “informing” to “involving” your residents
  • When your city, region, or school district is ready to engage the public
  • The five main criteria for judging an effective civic engagement process

(Practice Group 8 - Democratic Advocacy and Citizen Participation)  

updating local laws on public participation-and improving public meetings icon_new

Tired of tense, unproductive public meetings? Want to embed better online and face-to-face processes in the way governments work? This workshop session will build on Making Public Participation Legal, a new publication that includes a set of tools, including a model ordinance, set of policy options, and resource list, to help communities improve public participation.

(Making Public Participation Legal is a publication of the National Civic League that was produced by a working group of various organizations representing public participation and local government organizations, including  ICMA.) The session will provide guidance on the legal aspects of improving public meetings as well as the logistical and organizational aspects of facilitating more productive dialogue and deliberation with citizens through enhanced ordinances and regulations encouraging public engagement. (Practice Group 8 - Democratic Advocacy and Citizen Participation


All Ethics offerings address Practice Group 17 - Integrity.

Building a Culture of Ethical Behavior in Your Organization

Building a culture of ethical behavior in the organization is one of a leader’s most challenging yet essential jobs. The local government environment is complicated: government employees come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, often without strong knowledge of good government practices, and citizens have long held a basic distrust of government and its employees. We are all faced with ethical dilemmas in our jobs, and knowing the right thing to do is not always easy or clear. This workshop will offer a framework, complete with practical strategies and tools, through which you, as a leader, can foster an ethical workplace and effectively deal with the difficult situations that arise. (Practice Group 17 - Integrity) 

Ethics At Work!

Practical Ethics Tools and Strategies Suitable for All Staff to Improve Conduct in the Workplace [with Real-Life Examples] 

One way of helping protect the integrity of your organization is to keep ethics in the forefront with your employees. Ethics At Work Workshop is about helping your staff identify and resolve ethical issues and establishing a foundation for a strong and successful workplace and life.

As we've all seen in the news, it seems that ethical choices are more complex when people are under pressure. In the public sector, we need to understand that while something might be legal, it doesn't mean it's ethical. In these challenging times, everyone could use a refresher to help build skills and learn practical strategies for making ethical choices. Ethics At Work Workshop is based on the values of public service, and will provide a framework for addressing everyday ethical issues and serve as a platform for participant discussion about many common ethical concerns, such as:

  • balancing what’s legal versus what’s ethical
  • addressing perceived and/or real conflicts of interest
  • accepting gifts / favors
  • ethics and the Internet: Facebook, Twitter, and texting in the workplace
  • how your actions affect the ethics climate in your organization

You will tackle real-world case studies to give you and your staff an eye-opening perspective on a topic that sometimes gets taken for granted. You’ll be surprised at how difficult a seemingly simple ethical choice can be—especially in local government, where your choices need to build trust and confidence with the public you serve.

You and your staff will:

  • Build awareness of the core values of public service
  • Enhance ethical decision-making skills
  • Learn practical strategies to strengthen work environments
  • Build ethical habits.

(Practice Group 17 - Integrity)

Planning, Budgeting, and Finance


In 2012, ICMA established Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting as a leading practice for local governments. This session will provide you with the most in-depth assessment of what 40 organizations have achieved through this comprehensive body of work. From large organizations  (the cities of Cincinnati, Ohio, Sacramento, California and Edmonton, Alberta ) to small (the City of Victor, CO population 400 people)these processes and tools have proven effective scalable, and best of all, repeatable.

Local governments continue to face previously unknown financial and political pressures as they struggle to develop meaningful and fiscally prudent budgets.  Priority Based Budgeting is a unique and innovative approach being used across the Country to match available resources with community priorities, provide information to elected officials that lead to better informed decisions, meaningfully engage citizens in the budgeting process and, finally, escape the traditional routine of basing “new” budgets on revisions to the “old” budget.   This holistic approach helps to provide elected officials and other decision-makers with a “new lens” through which to frame better-informed financial and budgeting decisions and helps ensure that a community is able to identify and preserve those programs and services that are most highly valued.  The process also guides staff and elected officials to see their picture of “fiscal health” clearly and be able to achieve short-term fiscal relief and long-term sustainability.

Priority Based Budgeting provides a transparent path through which to guide elected officials, staff and the community as they address the unique challenges they face while striving to realize the results they wish to achieve.  Drawing on case studies from the 40 organizations that have implemented this process, this session will address new ways of:

  • Understanding and communicating your organization’s “picture of fiscal health”
  • Allocating resources through the budget process to those programs that are most highly valued by the community
  • Engaging elected officials in more meaningful discussions about finances and their vision of budget priorities
  • Demonstrating how the role of the elected official can be focused on policy rather than “line-items” – on strategic vision rather than day-to-day operations
  • Engaging citizens to help clarify what is important to them
  • Utilizing the tools and techniques of “Fiscal Health” and “Priority Based Budgeting”

 (Practice Groups 10 Budgeting and 11 Financial Analysis)

Public Safety Management

Asking Your Police and Fire Chief the Right Questions to Get the Right Answers

How many police and firefighters do you really need? How well are your public safety departments performing? Are "officers per 1,000" and "number of calls" really meaningful measures? As a local government manager, you have to make policy decisions based on information you get from the different departments. The toughest departments from which to get accurate, measurable information are the police and fire departments. Police and fire chiefs have their own jargon—and few city managers have training in emergency services management. The key is asking the right questions so that you get the right answers.

In this workshop, you will learn how to: establish goals and priorities and know what you need to analyze; quantify what the workloads are in the police and fire departments—and identify whether personnel are allocated correctly to meet the workload demands; get your police department to be able to tell you what percentage of its officers’ time is tied up on actual calls; identify the number of firefighters and amount of equipment that is really necessary; deal with low use of firefighters; and set measurable goals, identify performance problems, and apply strategies to follow the path of continuous improvement.(Practice Group 3 - Functional and Operational Expertise and Planning)



Many local government managers have considered the possibility of consolidating police and fire services. The public safety concept, where some or all personnel are dual trained and respond to both police and fire calls although attractive from an efficiency standpoint, is one of the most politically controversial ideas a manager can champion.

Many local governments are spending over 60% of their operating budgets on police and fire services. Facing the “new normal” with little likelihood  that revenues will increase in the foreseeable future, local government are revisiting the idea of merging police and fire services into one department and training public safety officers who can provide patrol and respond to fires.

This workshop will provide attendees with tools for gauging the benefits of a police/fire merger

Attendees will learn;

  • The history of the public safety concept
  • What the issues are surrounding a merger
  • The key decisions to be made
  • How to assess and overcome environmental barriers to a consolidation.
  • What opposition to expect from a proposal to consolidate and the consequences to the manager.
  • The impact on costs and performance of a merger.
  • Case studies of successful and unsuccessful merger efforts.
  • How long it takes and what techniques to use to implement a merger.

After the session, the instructors will be available to meet with attendees to provide a review of the specific issues in their communities.

After completion of this workshop attendees will have a better understanding of risks and benefits of a merger.  (Practice Groups:1- Staff Effectiveness, 5- Performance Measurement/Management and Quality Assurance, 6- Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity, and Innovation and 12- Human Resources Management)


staff development

Building Effective Teams through improved team skillsicon_new

Today’s requirement for outstanding leadership work and our increasing speed of change necessitate exceptional team skills at all levels of our organizations. Very few critical long-range decisions are made by individuals; those decisions require the very best thinking from all of us and proper team skills to maximize group thinking. Good team skills are required for everything from creating and implementing sound strategies at top organizational levels to making quality and timely tactical decisions at all levels.   

Yet, so much has been written about the pitfalls of teams. One such expert, J. Richard Hackman, Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University (Why Teams Don’t Work, Harvard Business Review, May 2009) finds that people are often really bad at teamwork. Most of the time team members don’t even agree on what the team is supposed to be doing. Research consistently shows that teams underperform, despite all the extra resources they have.   We will explore ways to elicit and maximize team thinking to develop collaborative strategies and more effective collaborative solutions to complex challenges.  (Practice Group 1- Staff Effectiveness)

Developing Successful Orientations and Retreats (small communities)

New council members: Do these three words strike fear in you? What about being asked to put on a retreat? This three-hour workshop will focus on the manager’s role in developing and delivering successful orientations for elected officials, and in holding retreats for councils, commissions, and citizen groups. Participants will work in small teams to develop effective models and check lists of do’s and don’ts for each event.  The workshop leader, Lynn Tipton, is a faculty member of the Florida Association of County’s Certified County Commissioner program, and a faculty member of the Florida League of Cities’ Institute for Elected Municipal Officials. She also provides training for municipal clerks and other government staff through the Florida Institute of Government. Her graduate and undergraduate degrees are in public administration. (Practice Group 2 - Policy Facilitation) 


Put Me In, Coach!

Are you using your coaching skills to improve performance and enhance organizational effectiveness? During this highly interactive workshop, you will learn to speak the language of possibility. While coaching is widely recognized as one of the key skills for developing leaders, it is also a critical tool when working with teams, and helping staff at every level achieve their personal and professional best. Highly motivated staff produce high performance results. Coaching skills may be used to help a senior manager or someone young to the profession find balance in work and life. Coaching may reinforce or correct behavior, increase a high performers ability to stretch beyond good into great, and transform organizational culture so that each individual is recognized as naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. This workshop provides practice in the skill of coaching, of trusting intuition, of learning to ask the right questions, and of mining strengths of individuals and organizations. (Practice Groups: 1 - Staff Effectiveness and 18 - Personal Development) 

Talent management: the next phase of succession planning icon_new

While the subject of succession planning has been the trend the last several years, this has transitioned to the practice of Talent Management wherein organizational leaders are seeking a broader and more systemic approach to building workforce capacity for the 21st century.  This session will feature an emphasis on “next practices” related to the entire spectrum of Talent Management activities including recruitment, selection, performance management, career planning, training/learning and leadership development. (Practice Group: 1 - Staff Effectiveness)

understanding and Appreciating Differences Using Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

This workshop is designed to explore differences of learning styles, communication styles, and preferences, from the view that a better understanding of differences leads to better leadership, management, team building and builds stronger communities. Participants will complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator  which gives individual information on what natural strengths and preferences you have, what energizes you, how you to take in and use information and how you make decisions. This work is particularly helpful in team building. Participants will learn to identify and understand differences and appreciate that it’s the differences that allow the best work to be done.  (Practice Groups: 1 - Staff Effectiveness; 9 - Diversity; and 14 - Advocacy and Interpersonal Communication)


leadership and innovation 

Leadership skills for managing wicked problemsicon_new

Local government leaders work increasingly in an environment of wicked problems: complex, interdependent problems unbounded by scope or resources, lacking clear definition, and involving conflicting perspectives of multiple stakeholders. In this interactive workshop, participants will learn proven relational leadership skills for building the collaborative and action focused initiatives essential for managing wicked problems in organizations and local communities. Core leadership skills presented include one-to-one interviews, values house meetings, power mapping, and public evaluation. Workshop includes case studies and skills toolkit. (Practice Group 6: Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity and Innovation)

leadership and management in a (Permanent) CRISISicon_new

In 2009, during the depths of the “Great Recession”, Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linksy published an article in the Harvard Business Review by this title.  

The “Idea in Brief” for this article suggested that if you are waiting for things to return to normal, it was not going to happen; and leaders and managers needed to develop new skills and adapt to a new environment that would be with us after the economy began to recover.

The purpose of this workshop is to address the application of the author’s conclusions to the local government environment, act collectively to better our communities, recognize the change that this recession has left us, and as professionals and “keepers of the long term view” provide for staff, our elected officials, and community leadership strategies and tactics for meeting the current demands of local government management and quality of life requirements.  (Practice Groups: 3- Functional and Operational Expertise and Planning; and 6- Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity and Innovation)


leading change isn't a spectator sport icon_new

During these times of unprecedented change, leaders of organizations have the opportunity to refresh the focus and spirit of members of their workforce resulting in a higher-motivated workforce delivering superior service. This session focuses on identifying common scenarios related to managing change initiatives and how to translate the forces for change into a tailwind with practical, tactical and impactful ideas you can begin using tomorrow. (Practice Group: 6- Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity and Innovation)

Living great by choice

Participants will work to identify practical applications of the core concepts from the Great by Choice book of

  • 10X Leadership: characteristics of companies, organizations and people that have shown exceptional performance
  • The 20 Mile March: the fanatic discipline that allows you to reach your goals
  • Fire Bullets, Then Cannonballs: innovation based on the combination of creativity , discipline and data
  • Leading above the Death Line or Productive Paranoia: practices of preparation and creating reserves to enable you to achieve more
  • SMaC or principles that are Specific, Methodical and Consistent: teaches the power of common vision, direction and culture
  • ROL or Return on Luck: teaches us that it’s not what happens but what we do with it that makes the difference

During the workshop participants will engage in a series of exercises and discussions designed to strengthen your ability to lead from wherever you are in you organization. You will build a personal plan of action based on the core concepts of Great by Choice that are outlined above.  (Practice Group: 6-Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity and Innovation)


Presented by George B. Cuff, FCMC a management consultant, author and former Mayor and a former municipal administrator who has received consistently high marks in the evaluations of his sessions for ICMA. George will examine this “hot” topic from a series of perspectives and will address:

  • The Challenges/Pitfalls of Executive Leadership
  • Key Distinctions: Council/Mayor Roles
  • Importance of “Tone at the Top”
  • Sources of Landmines
  • Why/How Managers Create Own Problems
  • Council Expectations of their City Manager
  • Where Role Clarity Should Begin
  • Signals the Relationship is Not Working
  • Survival Strategies
  • Assessing the Results of a Healthy Relationship: A Council-City Manager Covenant.

(Practice Groups: 1 - Staff Effectiveness, 2- Policy Facilitation, 4- Citizen Service, 8- Democratic Advocacy and Citizen Participation, 9- Diversity, 13- Strategic Planning, 17- Integrity and 18- Personal Development).


As catalysts for continuous improvement, government leaders are facing significant challenges during these uncertain times and are searching for a simple, powerful and productive approach to leadership in the 21st Century.  In this workshop, you’ll get the unique perspective of Patrick Ibarra, a former city manager and founder of the consulting practice, The Mejorando Group, who will use football as a platform to outline a series of forward-thinking leadership practices guaranteed to help you achieve improved performance.

Attend “Your Leadership Playbook” and discover how you can:

  • Develop principles of a forward-thinking strategy (Game Plan);
  • Identify and use the Five Practices of Great Leaders (Offense);
  • Use proven approaches to leading change (Defense);
  • Implement leading edge practices for effective execution of services (Xs and Os);
  • Successfully use methods of managing employee performance (Play Calling);
  • Utilize techniques to develop future leaders (Team Players);
  • Foster a leadership culture (the Field);
  • Pursue a leadership competency (Touchdown);
  • Digitally engage the public (Fans);
  • Celebrate success (Tailgating).

  (Practice Groups: 1- Staff Effectiveness, 6- Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity and Innovation, and 18- Personal Development)


Discover how to become a facilitator of learning rather than merely a presenter of information and how to foster effective decision making in work teams.

In today's workplace, leaders need to align people around common outcomes, achieve results in record time, engage employees, coach work teams and help the organization to learn quickly.  At the core of these roles is a series of skills that is best described as facilitative leadership.  This workshop features multiple opportunities for each participant to practice new tools and receive feedback.  Participants leave with invaluable core skills and implementation strategies for use in the workplace. (PracticeGroups: 1 - Staff Effectiveness  and 2 - Policy Facilitation) 


Navigating with your elected officials to success

Excel at your role as the navigator, not the ship's captain, for your governing body.  The formula to successfully navigate with your elected officials is = Savvy Peer Advice + Proven Leadership Skills + Trustworthy Relationships + Balanced Good Humor and Judgment.  It is far harder to sail through rough waters than to walk on dry ground--that is the tough reality today for Council-Manager relationships.  Your "New Normal" environment is like a rough sea--unrelenting demands, rising conflict, tough controversies, complex issues, scarce resources, and more contentious relationships with you and among your elected officials.   This lively, interactive session will sharpen your skills for knowing yourself, governing yourself, increasing your astuteness, and influencing others.  When your officials are sinking into negative emotions like anger, fear, and shame, you can help steer them towards more civil discourse and productive policy decisions.   Take away hundreds of practical tips collected from your peers for dealing with your elected officials like 'Sit down on ego, Stand up on principle'.   (Practice Group: 2 - Policy Facilitation)



Leaders today are immersed in moments of disruptive change. We have entered a "New Order of Things".  Leaders and the organizations they lead are constantly placed in difficult, awkward and conflict-laden situations.  What are the leadership fundamentals that we need to work on to thrive in "The New Order of Things"? This session will explore in depth the following topics: 1) An array of "poison darts" that exist in today's leadership environment that we must be aware of because they can easily derail our success; 2) "Interpersonal Leadership" as the antidote for the "poison darts" concentrating on the most important fundamentals for leading people during challenging times such as formal and informal authority, judgment, conflict, understanding emotions and the need for work/life balance. The session will be interactive including the use of case studies to amplify the leadership concepts explored. Practice Groups: 2- Policy Facilitation, 6- Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity, and Innovation; 14- Advocacy and Interpersonal Communication, 17- Integrity and 18- Personal Development).

getting the most out of teams: facilitation skills for managers 

If you are the leader of a team, a department or an entire organization, ask your people to describe the meetings they attend – you often are likely to hear the words “unproductive,” “ineffective” and “unnecessary.” Seasoned managers and emerging leaders alike will gain specific, applicable tools in this comprehensive program that focuses on proven facilitation skills and techniques.  Meetings and the team approach to operating an organization are more prevalent than ever, which makes effective facilitation a must-have skill for today’s managers. Discover how to become a facilitator of learning rather than merely a presenter of information, and engage in an interactive session that addresses how to create and manage effective group dynamics that foster true collaboration and results. (Practice Group 2 - Policy Facilitation)

Leadership: An Art of Possibility

Learn new leadership skills that will promote the development and performance of staff and senior management throughout the organization and will increase your effectiveness as a manager. This upbeat session will focus on the principles and practices of Ben and Rosamund Zander, authors of the book, The Art of Possibility. The ideas and exercises in this workshop will increase your skill in personal coaching and mentoring, team leadership, and empowerment.
Special emphasis will be given to facilitating teamwork and creating a work environment that encourages responsibility and decision making at all organizational levels and that requires skill in sharing authority and removing barriers to creativity. This workshop will help participants apply these ideas to local government management. The result will be better interpersonal interactions with your management team, staff, council, and everyone you deal with. It is recommended that participants read The Art of Possibility prior to the session.(Practice Group 1 - Staff Effectiveness)

Rapid Innovation

“Innovation” seems to be the buzzword in today’s economic crisis. Many local government leaders, while aware that we need innovative solutions, are also waiting for things to get better so that we can all go back to normal. But this is the “new normal.” And this fiscal crisis offers you the opportunity to hit the organization’s reset button. That is, you can use the instability of the present to build on and create an organization capable of continuous self-renewal in the absence of a crisis.

Join us for this highly interactive workshop in which Patrick Ibarra, cofounder and partner of the Mejorando Group, and a former city manager, hands you practical strategies to instill innovation into the day-to-day operations of your organization and into the fabric of its culture. You’ll find out how to get past the “we’ve always done it that way” mentality, and discover new ways to inject passion and innovation into the organization’s mindset.


  • How to overcome “bureaucratic gravity,” that prevents your organization’s leaders from using a more innovative approach to problem solving
  • How to use the five-step approach of Rapid Innovation
  • The three areas in your organization that should be the target of innovative solutions
  • Techniques that many local governments aren’t using – but should—to foster an innovative culture
  • Ways to change the organization’s vocabulary that tends to put a straitjacket on introducing new ideas
  • How to get leaders to start accepting new ideas and discard past solutions 
  • Steps you can take immediately to strengthen your own innovation muscles that will benefit you both personally and professionally
  • And much, much more!

(Practice Group 1 - Staff Effectiveness, 6 - Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity, and Innovation; and 18 - Personal Development)

The art and science of signature leadership

Do you know what your signature leadership style is and how it impacts those around you? This workshop is designed to explore core leadership values and how they show up in the workplace and in the board room. We will study the leadership style of a famous symphony conductor as a case study of the art of leadership and the differences that a clear leadership style and philosophy can make to an organization. During the seminar we will explore 6 principles key to developing a signature leadership style and discuss how they may apply to your organization and to you as a leader. We will also explore differences in how we see the world based on the latest neuro science research and how these preferences shape your leadership style. Come ready to engage in learning with others who share your values of service, your willingness to making a difference, and your commitment to building stronger communities.  (Practice Group 6 Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity and Innovation)



Leadership is about making change happen. Great leaders are not remembered for maintaining the status quo. So, how do you successfully lead change? Start by developing an understanding of what it takes for people to transition from opposing a change to supporting it. Learn proven strategies for promoting the need for change and communicating it to your staff and your community. Conduct an assessment of the level of readiness in your own organization or community to embrace your ideas for change. Create a plan to implement a major change that includes tactics for success at every stage in the process. Build a system to reinforce and sustain the change once it has taken hold, to ensure you’ve created a meaningful and lasting transformation. (Practice Groups: 1 - Staff Effectiveness and 6 - Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity, and Innovation)

performance measurement

360 degrees of data icon_new

Right now, you are sitting on a wealth of data about your community – you just don’t know it yet. Or maybe you’ve become so paralyzed by the numbers that you can’t see your way out. Either way, this workshop will teach you the skills to quickly gather, assess, and analyze the data you already have at your fingertips. Experts from National Research Center, Inc. will model a half-day process to help you determine what’s working, what isn’t, and how to move forward. You’ll leave ready to transform that pile of data into a meaningful, 360-degree view of your community that provides the groundwork for strategic planning and other endeavors.  (Practice Groups: 3 - Functional and Operational Expertise and Planning; 5 – Performance Measurement/Management; 6 - Initiative, Risk Taking, Vision, Creativity, and Innovation)

Optimizing the organization- If you don't know where you're going, will alternative service delivery get you there? icon_new

This workshop examines the renewed focus on shared services, consolidation, and  alternative service delivery in local government.  The current state of practice on "service optimization" will be presented, including real-world examples and program templates.  Through interactive discussion and group exercises, participants will be challenged to consider whether old models really work, what's truly effective, and whether there are things government should stop doing.  (Practice Group: 3- Functional and Operational Expertise and Planning)



“A goal without a plan is merely a wish.” 

Gaining clarity on motivations, passions and purpose is crucial to the pursuit of a happy, fulfilled life. Taking the specific steps necessary to achieve your desired future requires focused effort and a specific plan of action. Through a unique combination of personal reflection and interactive exercises, this session will enable participants to uncover deferred dreams and develop a “Life Map” that will chart a yearlong course for living purposefully. Using tools and processes inspired by NY Times bestselling “purpose” author and top executive coach Richard Leider, this session will be led by a dynamic facilitator and former City Manager personally trained by Leider.  (Practice Group: 18 - Personal Development)




To bring an ICMA University workshop to your local government, state association, or other setting, contact workshops@icma.org.