Leadership and Innovation

Setting an example that urges the organization and the community toward experimentation, change, creative problem solving, and prompt action.

ICMA is committed to providing workshops that are affordable, accessible, and designed to meet the specific needs of local government professionals. 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.

To reserve a workshop email: workshops@icma.org
Half-day workshops: $3,960 for states with a signed affiliation agreement with ICMA for up to 50 participants. Non-affiliated states pay an additional fee.



Workshop: Leading Courageously in Challenging Times

In the practice of local government management we often turn to policy or regulatory guidelines in decision making. This workshop will explore how localities may benefit from stepping out of traditional decision making modes to consider innovative ways to solve problems and address issues. This highly participative workshop will provide examples of leadership in theory and in practice. Thought leaders will introduce challenging management/leadership situations, and participants will have the opportunity to raise issues that they are currently faced with that challenge the way managers are taught to think about management and leadership. Session Leaders: Felicia Logan and key thought leaders. (Practice groups 6 - Strategic Leadership; and 8 - Policy Development and Implementation)

Workshop: Leading Through Conflict to Shared Success

You can’t lead an organization without leading its people. How are you leading your employees? How are you leading your executive team? How is your executive team leading the organization?

Gain strategies for attacking the root causes of organizational politics, operational confusion, siloed mentalities, and dysfunctional office politics.
Practice techniques for navigating conflict with others and nurturing an environment that welcomes healthy, respectful debate.
Reimagine the power of clarifying priorities, crystalizing values, and cascading communication to lead your people so they begin rowing together in the same direction.
This workshop will introduce best practices in executive leadership, communication, and team building; provide you with an opportunity to practice new skills; and send you back to your home jurisdiction with a new strategy for success. (Practice Group 6 - Strategic Leadership)

Workshop: The Advantage for Professional Managers

Do you have a leadership team that adds value and organizational clarity, or are the members simply representing their individual areas of responsibility? What does leadership mean within the organization and how do you lead the process? Are you clear about your role as a leader? As important as talent, knowledge, culture, or innovation, Patrick Lencioni identifies Organizational Health as the single greatest factor determining an organization’s success. Join your colleagues for a work session that focuses on leadership and the 4 disciplines of the Organizational Health Model featured in Lencioni’s latest book The Advantage. This workshop will also focus on how to increase the effectiveness of staff meetings. Are your meetings dull and uninspiring? Do team members question the usefulness of meetings? “No action, activity or process is more central to creating a healthy organization than the meeting.” (Lencioni) Come to learn the 4 functions of meetings and 5 tips to create better meetings. (Practice Group 4: Staff Development)

Workshop: Engagement, Motivation, and Leadership 

As data from Gallup research shows us, the percentage of disengaged and actively disengaged employees in the U.S. is truly alarming. This research includes local government employees. What do we know about engagement and how can we increase the number of engaged employees in our organizations? Understanding what is key to employee engagement, understanding current research on what drives or motivates employees, and providing the leadership needed to inspire your organization are the core leadership skills to increasing engagement. This 2.5-hour workshop will challenge you to look at the Gallup research, examine what we now know about what motivates people, and develop a leadership plan to create the platform for engagement. It will include application of a most powerful tool that will increase engagement and motivation and inspire you to be a leader who not only sees the possibility but engages those who follow. (Practice Group 4: Staff Development)

Workshop: Facilitation-A Skill to Run a Meeting or the Platform for Leadership?

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. (Practice,Groups: 4 - Staff Effectiveness; and 8 - Policy Facilitation and Implementation)

Workshop: Leadership Skills for Managing Wicked Problems

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 - Strategic Leadership)

Workshop: Leadership and Management in a (Permanent) Crisis 

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 authors' 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: 6 - Strategic Leadership; and 7 - Strategic Planning)

Workshop: Leading Change Isn't a Spectator Sport

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 - Strategic Leadership)

Workshop: Fatal Flaws of a Council-Management Relationship 

This workshop 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 Their Own Problems, Council Expectations of their City Manager, Where Role Clarity Should Begin, Signals that the Relationship is Not Working, Survival Strategies, Assessing the Results of a Healthy Relationship: A Council-City Manager Covenant. (Practice Groups: 1- Personal and Professional Integrity; 2 - Community Engagement; 3 - Equity and Inclusion; 4 - Staff Effectiveness; 5 - Personal Resiliency and Development; 7 - Strategic Planning; 8 - Policy Facilitation and Implementation; 9 - Community and Resident Service)

Workshop: Your Leadership Playbook

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: 4 - Staff Effectiveness; 5 - Personal Resiliency and Development; and 6 - Strategic Leadership)

Workshop: 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 8 - Policy Facilitation and Implementation)

Workshop: 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 4 - Staff Effectiveness)

Workshop: 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. Discover: 1) How to overcome “bureaucratic gravity,” that prevents your organization’s leaders from using a more innovative approach to problem solving; 2) How to use the five-step approach of Rapid Innovation; 3) The three areas in your organization that should be the target of innovative solutions; 4) Techniques that many local governments aren’t using – but should—to foster an innovative culture; 5) Ways to change the organization’s vocabulary that tends to put a straitjacket on introducing new ideas; 6) How to get leaders to start accepting new ideas and discard past solutions; 7) Steps you can take immediately to strengthen your own innovation muscles that will benefit you both personally and professionally--and much, much more! (Practice Groups 4 - Staff Effectiveness; 5 - Personal Resiliency and Development; and 6 - Strategic Leadership)

Workshop: 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 neuroscience 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 - Strategic Leadership)

Workshop: Changed for Good: Leading Transformation in Your Organization and Your Community 

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: 4 - Staff Effectiveness; and 6 - Strategic Leadership)

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Related Resources

ICMA University webinars│Leadership 
ICMA Publications
Alliance for Innovation
About ICMA's Practices for Effective Local Government Leadership


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