Jun 6 / Emma Broomfield

Aligning your values, motivations and skills with civic leadership

Stepping into civic leadership

If you’ve found this article, chances are you considering running for local government in 2024. You might just be curious about being a candidate or already completely committed to becoming a councillor. Either way, deciding to nominate in the election is a significant personal decision, and we're here to support you every step of the way

In this article, we explore the key areas where you should have clarity and resolve before putting your name on the ballot paper. This includes knowing your personal motivation, clarifying your values, and evaluating your skills—essential components that will form the foundation of your civic leadership. By exploring these aspects, you will gain a clearer picture of what it means to be a councillor and how you can effectively serve your community.

Finding your motivation

At the heart of being a local councillor is servant leadership. This is a philosophy that prioritises the needs of the community and the wellbeing of others above personal ambition or power. This leadership approach is particularly relevant in the context of local government because councillors make decisions in the best interest of the community. So, discovering what drives you to serve your community is a vital first step.

Spend some time exploring your personal motivations. Think deeply about what is motivating you to serve your community. Is it a desire to improve local infrastructure, address environmental concerns or revitalise the sense of belonging in your community? Consider the issues that matter most to you and your community, and why these issues are important to you.

Your motivation should reflect your unique perspective and experiences, and it should be anchored in making a difference in your community. Having a purpose outside yourself will bolster your performance and impact.

Clarifying your values

Being a local councillor requires commitment to civic values such as honesty, integrity, transparency and inclusivity. Embracing civic values means prioritising the common good over personal gain and making decisions that are fair, just, and beneficial for the whole community and for future generations. Civic values are not just ideals -  they are practical tools that underpin ethical leadership and robust decision making processes. Knowing your own core values and how these align with civic values is essential for any elected leader. Your values are the guiding principles that shape your decisions and actions. They inspire trust and credibility in your leadership. To define your core values, start by reflecting on the principles that guide your daily life and professional interactions. What are the three core values that are non-negotiable for you?
Consider how these values manifest in your actions. If honesty is a core value, how do you demonstrate honesty in your current roles? If inclusivity is important, how have you worked to ensure diverse voices are heard and respected?

Evaluating your skills

Focusing on the skills needed for civic leadership is also important. Many professional and life skills are transferable to the role of a councillor, but some need to be learned and practised.

Begin by taking an inventory of your skills. Reflect on your strengths and areas of expertise. What do you excel at in your current roles? Are you a skilled communicator, a strategic thinker, or an adept problem-solver? Identifying these strengths will help you leverage them effectively in your role as a councillor.

Consider also the skills specific to the responsibilities of a councillor. These might include understanding public policy, managing budgets, engaging with the community, and negotiating with stakeholders. Evaluate how your existing skills match up against these expectations. If there are gaps, think about how you can bridge them through learning and practice.

Taking the plunge

Making the decision to run for local government is a big decision for most people. It requires a deep commitment to public service and a readiness to engage with complex and sometimes contentious issues. Synthesize your insights. Consider the motivations, values, and skills you have identified.
Are you ready to take the plunge? If not, then we encourage you to sign up for our seven day candidate launchpad where we guide you through a daily challenge that will align your leadership potential with the realities of  being a councillor.
The launchpad includes exploring your motivations, values and skills as we have discussed here, as well as considering your time and capacity, support networks and knowledge gaps. Being clear on all these elements will help you decide if running in the election is the right decision for you right now.

Sign up here for 7 day candidate launchpad here

Hungry for more insights? Stay connected with us! We're here to keep councillors, councils, and community leaders in the loop with all things local government. Join our mailing list.

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