Leadership Resources

Exercising Leadership During a Crisis

We are in unprecedented times with local governments are facing multiple crises at once, and with no clear end in sight for any of them: pandemic, fiscal emergencies, community unrest. People are feeling anxious, uncertain, angry … we are all experiencing anxiety as never before. This times call for the exercise of leadership, as challenging as that is. We have created a number of Tip Sheets specifically designed to support the leadership work of local government executives, managers and elected officials. We hope these help you bring strength and resilience to your organization and community.

Tip Sheet: Leadership in a Crisis  Collection of best practices from experience in local government and our many classes, summarized into one page as reminders for day-to-day action. (April, 2020)

Tip Sheet: Building Around Purpose: Coaching Employees through Ambiguity  Coaching and regrounding employees in the purpose of their work and the value they are contributing to the community can help people get through these trying times. Here are some proven methods.  (May, 2020)

Tip Sheet: Compassionate Leadership: A crucial power in a crisis  Employees are experiencing a range of physiological and psychological responses from the lost sense of security and normalcy in both their personal and professional lives. Compassionate leadership is proving to be a crucial power to shepherd organizations into a post-crisis next normal. Here are some practices. (May, 2020)

Tip Sheet: Facilitating Courageous Conversations on Adaptive Change  Addressing adaptive challenges requires people to make adaptive change. This provides tips for facilitating courageous conversations with people facing multiple changes to their work, their lives, and themselves. (April, 2020)

Tip Sheet: Balancing Leadership and Management Through a Crisis  We often emphasize leadership practices in our courses, but with the complexity and change required in a crisis, leadership practices alone are insufficient. Here are some tips for balancing management and leadership. (April, 2020)

Tip Sheet: The Right Words for Tough Conversations and Questions  People are feeling deeply unsettled today, and our anxieties drive us to ask new questions of, and listen to every word from, authority figures. These best practices help build trust and bring clarity and hope to your communications. (April, 2020)

Tip Sheet: Engage Employees in Their Rapid Learning of New Skills  As local agencies move through the COVID-19 response and recovery, many employees are being called upon to take on new tasks which require skill building. Adults learn differently than children, and there are techniques that will make your skill-building sessions effective and build employee confidence in their ability to perform the new skill. (May, 2020)

Tip Sheet: Taking Risks in a Risky World: Encourage and Support Innovation  Two consistent attributes of resilient people and organizations are their uncanny ability to innovate and a bias for speed and action. Both are new capacities in the public sector and take the courage to face fears and act. Some practices can create an environment that builds courage, faces fears and supports innovation.  (June, 2020)

Tip Sheet: Imagining the New Future: Think about possibilities  No one has the crystal ball, but there are certainly some emerging trends which may offer clues for some attributes of the next normal. We have been tracking research and commentaries from a range of sources and summarize some of these trends most likely to influence local agency operations and strategy  (May, 2020)

Tip Sheet: Build a Network of Teams to Respond and Plan-Ahead for Recovery  Most agencies have created crisis-response teams to deal with immediate safety, health and fiscal challenges. Now is also the time to consider creating a “Plan-Ahead Team” to support executives and the governing board on recovery phase decisions, looking ahead in months and years.  (April, 2020)

Tip Sheet: Reimagining and Reengineering County Business Practices  Now is the time to harness the creativity and innovation of staff throughout the agency to find – and sustain – reimagined ways to provide services. This sheet provides a model.  (April, 2020)

The Toughest Leadership Test  A must-read for agency chief executives and department heads.  Once the crisis is over, everyone is likely to remember how county senior executives acted during the pandemic. To pass this toughest leadership test, senior executives are paying even more attention to what they say and do. Executives from across the globe report on daily routines and ways of working to help them and their organizations weather this crisis and emerge stronger from it. (May, 2020, McKinsey & Company)

Ideals from Lincoln  President Lincoln exhibited the ideals of transformational leadership in another turbulent time in our nation’s history. This is a list of those ideals as interpreted by Doris Kerns Goodwin in “Leadership in Turbulent Times.” (2018, Simon & Schuster)

Executives are facing the enormous challenge of guiding people through a crisis that has upended the lives of every single person. History can serve as a model for how leaders inspire others and manage their own anxieties. Two recent articles highlight how history’s best leaders responded in uncertain worlds. In “How History’s Great Leaders Managed Ambiguity” Harvard professor Nancy Koehn explains how some very best leaders understood how to provide stability, a steady hand, and hope, even when they themselves were uncertain about the road ahead. A McKinsey & Company report, “Lessons from the Generals: Decisive action amid the chaos of crisis” explores ideas drawn from the experience of crisis-management professionals—and county officials struggling to respond to this pandemic can learn a great deal from military generals.

Podcast: How Organizations Are Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic   AMG President Bill Chiat discusses leadership practices local governments are or should be considering, and some silver linings. (CPS HR Consulting)