Cityscape — March 2015
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Lon Pluckhahn

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) turned 100 years old in 2014. Its origins can be traced back to the less-than-glory days of local government, when nepotism and favoritism often determined who benefitted from local government services. ICMA was formed on the foundation of ethical leadership, with the idea that the values of professional management would be responsive and transparent for all members of the community

Iowa's first city manager position was created in 1913 in the city of Clarinda. Since then, nearly 200 cities have appointed either a city manager or city administrator. Professional managers serve in all sizes and types of Iowa communities, from urban Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport to smaller, rural cities like Griswold, Leon and Marquette. In the last 10 years many new cities have created professional management positions.

This new century is going to have different demands of leaders. Communities have become more diverse, social media has changed the way Iowans communicate, and the expectations citizens have of local government have changed. Leadership will be less grounded in a position in the organizational chart and more about that person's skills in facilitation, consensus building, engagement and communicating a vision. ICMA is adapting to the new demands of its members by adding leadership as a core value along with ethics. It will spend the next few years revamping its leadership development to provide the skills future leaders will need.

The Iowa City/County Management Association (IaCMA) has already started to adapt. We have created a mentor program that matches experienced managers and administrators with those newer to the profession. This will supplement professional training and peer to peer involvement. Over the next year we will also be re-examining our committee structure and looking for more ways to get next generation managers more involved. We are also fortunate to have a talented group of former managers/administrators in our Senior Advisor (formerly Range Rider) program that act as a resource.

Elected and appointed officials will face the same challenge. Luckily, Iowa has the support of organizations like the Institute for Public Affairs, the League, the IaCMA and many other resources to help meet those challenges. I would encourage all cities to look at the way newly appointed and elected officials are brought on board and up to speed, and make opportunities available for leadership training. It is a small investment in the future that will provide big returns to your communities.

President of the Iowa City/County Management Association Lon Piuckhahn
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