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Member Relations Corner: Elected leaders education and training 

by Rob Shepherd, NCLM Manager of Member Relations and Education

In a speech President John F. Kennedy prepared to deliver in Dallas, TX, on the fateful day he was assassinated, he wrote, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason.” 

These words still ring true today as our communities and our world have become more complex and there seems to be no end to continuing problems, frustrations and irritations. There is no doubt education and learning are crucial in understanding the complexities of our world and the role elected leaders should play to lead strategically, think creatively, and act collaboratively to deal with serious governing challenges.

Local elected officials in North Carolina are fortunate to have many resources at their fingertips like the League of Municipalities, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and the UNC School of Government, which, among other things, provides excellent opportunities for education and training for local elected leaders. Between October and February there will be several opportunities for local elected officials to develop their leadership skills.

On October 11 to 14, 2014, the League will hold its annual conference in Greensboro at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center.  CityVision 2014: Charting our Tomorrow  is this year’s theme and will include sessions on the future of municipalities , new health care law, understanding financial reports and audits, intergovernmental cooperation and economic development among other topics.

On the last day of the conference, there will be a new focus on individual development as there will be opportunities to develop personal communication skills and how to use social media as a local elected leader. These sessions are sponsored by the Local Elected Leaders Academy, a partnership between the League of Municipalities, the Association of County Commissioners and the UNC School of Government and will be open to both municipal and county elected officials. These sessions are led by experts in the field of communications and offer a wonderful opportunity to improve on your communication skills. 

In January and February, municipal elected leaders will have the opportunity to attend a one day LeaderShop held in conjunction with the Essentials of County Government.  The LeaderShops, which are a part of the Local Elected Leaders Academy, are open to both municipal and county elected officials to attend in four locations across the state:  Winston-Salem, Asheville, Chapel Hill and New Bern. The topic for these LeaderShops will be announced soon, but they will offer an opportunity for elected officials to gain knowledge and skills needed to lead and learn from each other. Please be on the lookout for announcements and registration information for these LeaderShops.

Another saying that I have found to be true is, “You don’t govern alone.” Whether you are the mayor or a member of the governing body, you cannot govern by yourself. You must have others on the governing body who come together to accomplish things. And, often times not just one local government can solve problems on their own. You must reach out to other municipalities or the county to gain knowledge and resources necessary to address issues in your home cities and towns. For information on upcoming training, including information on the annual conference and the regional LeaderShops in January and February, please visit the Events Calendar on the League’s website for information and registration instructions. I hope to see you all soon in Greensboro for CityVision 2014 and at one of the LeaderShops next year.