Do-Don'ts-City Managers-City Councilmembers
Some Suggested "Do's"
- Do recognize that the Chief Executive works for the entire Governing Board as an entity, not individual Board Members
- Do view the Chief Executive as a partner in policy-making and achieving Governing Board goals
- Do encourage the Governing Board to establish priorities and strategic goals for the organization, thus focusing and legitimizing the work of the Chief Executive and the staff
- Do respect the position and role of the Chief Executive as he/she must respect your role as a Governing Board Member. For example, recognize that the agency's staff work for the Chief Executive and report to the Chief Executive, not the Board
- Do understand and respect the Chief Executive's Code of Ethics
- Listen, inquire, and learn in your interactions with local government staff, interest groups, and community members before you formally make decisions and commitments for the organization and community
- Do make decisions and commitments in public at Governing Board meetings
- Do respect the fact that the Chief Executive is trying to manage the organization and the agency budget in times of economic meltdown
- Do share with other Governing Board Members, the Chief Executive, and the Chief Counsel the content of any significant discussions with an interest group related to a matter of importance to the Board or the community
- Do encourage the Governing Board as an entity to adopt protocols of behavior
Some Suggested "Don'ts"
- Don't make commitments outside of formal Governing Board meetings
- Don't surprise the Chief Executive. Just as Chief Executives should never surprise Governing Board members, Governing Board members should never surprise the Chief Executive
- Don't try to "go around" the Chief Executive to influence agency staff in implementing your agenda or getting desired action
- Don't act as a "lone ranger." Work with the other Governing Board Members and the Chief Executive to decide direction, take action, and make a positive impact
- Don't criticize agency personnel in public. Question policies or programs, but do not criticize staff people including the Chief Executive or other employees
Frank Benest is a senior advisor at the International City/County Management Association. He offered his do's and don'ts at a meeting of the Ethics Center's Public Sector Roundtable on April 20, 2012.