Emma Broomfield and Anna Miley

Three ways to stay motivated and effective mid-term

Keeping your mojo at mid-term

The start of a new year usually nudges us into setting goals and making plans. Often we have had time to reflect over the summer break and are ready to implement our ideas. Many of us hit the ground running as personal, professional, and public lives ramp back up. This is especially the case for the people we elect to represent us at a local level – local councillors.

If you are a councillor in NSW, and yet to reflect on the past 15 months of your term or are yet to plan for the remaining 18 months (yes, the NSW elections are only around 18 months away to be held in September 2024) then read on for tips to ensure you are on track with your election promises and goals, and to make the remainder of your term is impactful as possible. 

1. Remember your why

What drove you to stand for election? Reflecting on why you are in the role as councillor can fuel fresh motivation. Your ‘why’ is your purpose. It gives meaning to the work you are doing and a reason to keep going each day. Clearly knowing your purpose sustains your motivation and helps to see the forest through the trees.

As a local government councillor, it is helpful to define your ‘actionable purpose’ – that is, the purpose that can be achieved through clearly defined goals. It also important that you can take action in alignment with these goals. Having a clear actionable purpose will keep you energised in your role as a councillor amidst the complex and varied responsibilities.

In reflecting on your purpose at this mid-point of this term, it may be helpful to consider what different stakeholders need from you. This could be your councillor colleagues, council staff, local businesses or citizens. Zero in on what speaks to you, write it down and pin it above your desk.

If you are short on time, a quick-fire way to get you on track is to write down three words that describe your attitude and approach to your councillor role for the coming year. Refer back to these guiding qualities if you become overwhelmed, or start to lose motivation. An example is “informed, focused and fair”.

2. Know your role and responsibilities

Next, it is helpful to remember that there must be congruence between your purpose and your civic role and responsibilities. Both as an individual councillor and member of the governing body. These roles and responsibilities are enshrined in the legislation and you need to operate within these boundaries. For example, your inner purpose may be “to connect people to their community and champion inclusivity”. This may translate to your purpose as a councillor “to influence change in council systems and decision-making to ensure inclusivity and accessibility are reflected in council’s policies and strategic direction”.

The first 12 or so months of a new councillor’s term is a steep learning curve. There is an enormity of information that needs to be absorbed. However, that is not an excuse to fly blind. It is imperative that councillors have a solid understanding of key codes and legislation to lead effectively and with integrity. The recent public inquiry into Wingecarribee Shire Council made it clear that a high-level understanding is not enough.
We encourage councillors to build their knowledge confidence through revisiting the framework that underpins their role and responsibilities including:

1. The oath or affirmation that you took right at the very beginning.

2. The principles of local government that guide your decision making on an ongoing basis.

3. Your statutory role as an individual councillor and as part of the governing body.

4. The rules for your behaviour in and out of the Chamber (i.e. Code of Conduct and Code of Meeting Practice).

Download our digital wallpaper for your phone. Read it before your council meetings. 

3. Make your professional development a priority

Through our group and individual professional development coaching, we often meet councillors who have inadvertently created challenges for themselves through not having a thorough grasp of the local government framework or because they have lost connection to their inner calling amongst the humdrum of councillor life.

Recently, in working one to one with a new councillor, it became evident that there was a gap in their foundational knowledge. This happens all too easily, with an overload of information during the induction process and a lack of experience making it hard to filter out the important stuff. It can also be easy to put your professional development as a councillor to the bottom of your to-do list as you are focused on representing your community and all that it entails. The downside is that this knowledge gap can manifest as a lack of confidence and a feeling of uncertainty. As this councillor learnt, making time to fill this knowledge gap will have a huge impact on your success as a councillor.

If this sounds like you, then reach out to us contact@localelearning.com.au or call Emma directly on 0421 180 881 for a obligation free chat about how we can support you to keep your mojo flowing for the remainder of your term.

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