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Resources for Community Leaders

August 7, 2013 by Byron Katsuyama
Category: Leadership

Resources for Community Leaders

What does it take to be a successful community leader? What are the attributes and skills that are required for a local government elected or appointed official to be effective in the offices they have been elected or appointed to fill? MRSC’s new webpage on “Community Leadership Resources” provides guidance, suggestions, and inspiration for newly elected and appointed officials as well as experienced local government leaders. The resources include a variety of guidebooks, articles, reports, webinars, webpages, and videos.

Publications and Reports  

The Association of Washington Cities and MRSC have developed a number of publications, reports, blogs, and e-newsletters that provide basic guidelines, advice, and timely information for local elected and appointed community leaders. The National Association of County Officials has also published a handbook dealing specifically with county leadership issues:

  • The Ten Commandments of Community Leadership, Association of Washington Cities, 2007 (An energizing dose of practical tips for local leaders, giving them a framework for making decisions and taking actions based on what is right for their communities)
  • 53 Suggestions for Successful Public Service, Association of Washington Cities (A quick read for city officials who want to improve their leadership skills.)
  • In Focus: Local Government, MRSC's bi-weekly e-newsletter designed specifically for local elected and appointed officials with the latest local government news, information, and research.
  • MRSC Insight, MRSC blog delivers our staff’s research, knowledge and insight into issues that local governments in Washington State are grappling with every day.
  • Council/Commission Advisor, MRSC has joined with Stan Finkelstein, Chair, Washington State Public Works Trust Board; Carl Neu, Director of the Center for the Future of Local Governance; P. Stephen DiJulio, Attorney, Foster Pepper PLLC; and Ann Macfarlane, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, to bring you the "Council/Commission Advisor," with a new article each month with timely information and advice specifically for local government elected officials.
  • Cityvision, Association of Washington Cities (A bi-monthly magazine exploring key issues facing Washington cities, with ideas to share from communities that are making a positive difference.)
  • CityVoice, Weekly e-newsletter source for the latest AWC news and services.
  • Councilmember's Handbook, Association of Washington Cities and MRSC, December 2011 (Budget basics, parliamentary procedures, roles and responsibilities, resolving conflict, Open Public Meetings Act, appearance of fairness, and citizen participation. That’s just the start of the resources and advice you’ll find in the Councilmember's Handbook. It’s an essential foundation for a successful council meeting.)
  • Mayor's Handbook, Association of Washington Cities and MRSC, December 2009 (A reference guide for both strong mayors and mayors in council-manager cities and all mayor pro tems. Covers everything from presiding over meetings and resolving/ preventing mayor-council conflict, to budget basics and an overview of statutes defining the mayor’s authority).
  • Getting into Office: Being Elected or Appointed into Office in Washington Counties, Cities, Towns, and Special Districts, MRSC, Report No. 62 Revised, January 2013 (This publication addresses issues relating to: qualifying and running for elective office in cities, towns, counties, and special districts; assuming office; vacancies in office; and appointments to fill vacancies.)
  • So you want to be an elected official..., Association of Washington Cities, 2011 (Practical information for people running for office in Washington’s cities and towns.)
  • County Leadership Handbook, National Association of County Officials, 2011.


Here is a collection of articles from a variety of sources that are focused on what leaders do and how they do it:


Web Pages

California’s Institute for Local Government and Harvard’s Kennedy School offer several  resources on Web pages relating to leadership issues including a list of recommended books:

  • Leadership Resources for Local Officials, Institute for Local Government
  • Leadership for the Common Good, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School (books in the Leadership for the Common Good series aim to provoke conversations about the role of leaders in business, government, and society; to enrich leadership theory and enhance leadership practice; and to set the agenda for defining effective leadership in the future.)
  • Faculty Books, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School (books from the Center for Public Leadership & Harvard University faculty).

Training Resources

Finally, here are several training resources including some interesting TED Talks, free webinars, and information about leadership programs provided by the Association of Washington Cities, the County Training Institute of Washington, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of County Officials:

  • Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action, TED Talks, September 2009 (Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.)
  • Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn ... then Lead, TED Talks, March 2011 (Four-star general Stanley McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military.)
  • Certificate of Municipal Leadership (CML) Program, Association of Washington Cities
  • Free Webinars - Elected Officials Essentials, Association of Washington Cities (Start with a strong foundation. What every elected official should know to govern effectively. Includes two webinars: (1) “What is a city? An overview of Washington cities’ functions and services,” and (2) “Where’s the line? Roles & responsibilities of elected officials”)
  • County Training Institute of Washington, The County Training Institute was developed in a collaborative partnership with agencies committed to strengthening and promoting leadership capacity of elected and appointed county officials in Washington State.
  • National League of Cities - The National League of Cities conducts the Congress of Cities and Exposition and the Congressional City Conference. NLC also offers seminars and conferences throughout the year.
  • National Association of County Officials - Topical and time sensitive information is presented by leading experts at all of NACo's Conferences
  • County Leadership Institute, National Association of County Officials.


Are you aware of other leadership related publications, articles, web sites, or training opportunities that should be shared on this page? Please email links or sample documents to Byron Katsuyama, Public Policy and Management Consultant, MRSC.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Byron Katsuyama

Byron began work at the Center as a Research Assistant in July 1978. He holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Washington and an M.P.A. from the University of Washington's Evan’s School of Public Policy and Governance. After completing his M.P.A., Byron joined MRSC's consulting staff as a Public Policy and Management Consultant concentrating on municipal administration and policy analysis. Byron is responsible for research in such areas as emerging local government issues, best practices, strategic planning, performance measurement, and local government management. In addition to his consulting duties, Byron also maintains the "Focus" section of MRSC's website and is editor of our "In Focus" and "Ask MRSC" e-newsletters. He also coordinates our HR, Planning, Finance, Government Performance, and Council/Commission Advisors. In his own community of Kirkland, Byron also served for eight years as a member of the city's planning commission. Byron is a member of the Washington City/County Management Association (WCMA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

VIEW ALL POSTS BY Byron Katsuyama


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