Keys to Successful Supervision and Leadership in Local Government

Below are some of the key takeaways for successful supervision and leadership in local government from three local government managers.

Sep 12, 2016 | BLOG POST

On Thursday, the latest ICMA Coaching webinar polled its audience about which leadership behaviors local government leaders would like to learn to improve effectiveness. The top answer among participants was having a better understanding of how to motivate individual employees (71%) followed by giving feedback for good and bad behavior when it occurs (51%). Indeed, motivating employees is still a major topic of leadership.

ICMA has been hosting coaching webinars for the past year through the ICMA Coaching Program. This month's topic was Successful Supervision and Leadership. Below are some of the key takeaways to successful supervision and leadership in local government from three local government managers.

Mark Peterson


Mark Peterson, City Manager, Normal, Illinois

Five characteristics of a great leader are:

      • Integrity - honest, trustworthy, consistent, ethical
      • Competent - expertise, learned, smart, humility
      • Inspirational - passionate, caring, motivated
      • Vision - foresight, purpose, awareness, committed
      • Accessible - attentive, approachable, listener, flexible
Scott Sellers


Scott Sellers, City Manager, Kyle, Texas

Sellers notes that coaching is the next step of leadership and the role of a leader is to help others become leaders themselves. Below are several other tips on coaching and motivating staff/co-workers in the organization:

      • A coach should help others, at a minimum, identify the next step for their career and the ultimate career goal.
      • A coach must understand the vision and core values of the organization and profession. Tip: Always try to refer to your core values when speaking with employees and co-workers.
      • Invite new ideas and innovation to show that your are listening.
      • Leaders have an obligation to focus on professional development within their state associations, ICMA, and beyond. 
      • Make a special effort to get to know assistants and new employees to help them with creative solutions to enstill confidence.
Matthew Bronson


Matt Bronson, City Manager, Grover Beach, California

Bronson suggests eight keys to successful supervision and leadership:

      1. Supervision is not leadership. Supervision is a role, a position. Leadership is a trait, a set of qualities. 
      2. Practice art of leadership (what you work on for yourself to be a better leader) and the science of management (the structure, the systems, the performance metrics, and budget).
      3. Be authentic to your own style by not emulating a leadership style that isn't your own.
      4. Choose excellence and what you want to achieve over perfection.   
      5. Focus on results and caring for those who deliver on those results. People don't care what you know, unless they know that you care.
      6. Model and encourage new ideas by taking reasonable risks to help achieve better results for your community.
      7. Create an enviornment for success. To do so, create a culture for successful operations to take place by working with employees and inner-motivation.
      8. Paint a picture of a better tomorrow. Set a vision, and the projects that will be carried out to achieve that vision. 

[Listen more on successful supervision and leadership]

The ICMA Coaching Program delivers a suite of services to help you grow and enjoy your career. Click to learn more and to register for next month's webinar: Survival Skills for Managers.


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