Updated: Nov 15, 2022
Being a good leader is not just about one’s opinion or stance on an issue. It is about vital attributes, characteristics, and qualities that contribute to the short-term and long-term well-being of the community.
Approachable: Leadership means listening carefully to others with a desire to understand concerns, ideas, and perspectives. Elected officials are expected to be accessible to the community through meetings and events, and by phone and email. Commitment to clear, diverse, and regular communication with the community is key.
Critical Thinking: Today’s problems often come from yesterday’s solutions. Elected officials should consider how to best limit shifting a problem into the future by maintaining a long-term perspective and considering the potential impact of decisions.
Prepared: Never underestimate the mental preparation required to make decisions about the long-term sustainability of a community. It is easy to believe that being an elected official means attending a few meetings a month; but, effective elected officials are committed to doing their homework. They come prepared to participate in discussions by researching and reading background materials prior to attending meetings, sessions, committees, etc.
Financial Acumen: We can’t afford to have a governing body where two-thirds of the group glaze over the budgeting process, while a few others want to go through the budget line by painful line. Policymakers need to understand basic financial information and be able to evaluate budgets and financial statements. If they do not, then they should be willing to seek training to improve their skills. They need to comprehend the long-term taxation and budget consequences of financial proposals and decisions.
Relationship Builder: Disrespect, contempt, and personal attacks create unhealthy relationships that undermine sound governance. If one wishes another to fail, then everyone fails. Good relationships and sound policy serve your community; spite or pandering seldom does.
Emotionally Mature: Given that they are required to make decisions in the best interests of the community – despite opposition – they must be able to withstand criticism. Being emotionally mature means staying engaged, welcoming dissent, and not overreacting to it. At times, it may mean coping with the intense emotions of others.
Team Player: Being an effective team player means being able to advocate for one’s position while remaining curious and open-minded about the position of others. It also means they work constructively with others without dominating the flow of information or ideas. Their role is to debate and vote as individuals but then respect and support the decision of the majority. They are able to set aside personal interests and influences for the common good.
- from "Municipal World"