News from the Top

Finding Balance in 2023


Wow, talk about hitting the ground running – it has been a sprint! If you are like me, the pace of life, work, and various issues affecting our cities has risen to a fever pitch. But rather than jumping directly back into the fire after the rejuvenating and much deserved downtime with family and friends over the holiday season, it would be best to take a lesson from our Nordic place management colleagues whose culture focuses more on working to live, rather than living to work. An understanding I gained from Dr. David Livermore and his lecture series Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt Wherever You Are.

For many of us, modifying habits will take some time. In the interim, IDA is learning of a growing narrative around mental health and the well-being of our teams. The impacts of issues we are witnessing in our districts and the ongoing stresses being endured during this era of re-envisioning and rebuilding are affecting our teams. I find myself thinking how imperative it is that we as leaders must connect with our staff, stakeholders and constituents, knowing they, too may have jumped straight into the fire, continuing a stressful journey through these challenging times.

Recently, I learned of one district leader who has made a counselor available to staff each month. This is a great example of someone taking a proactive approach to their team, recognizing that burnout and performance issues can be on the horizon. This counseling helps the team develop the necessary tools to manage stress and process negative thoughts. Other leaders openly share their challenges with their team, who often feel their supervisor or chief executive is somehow unfazed by the day’s challenges. Here at IDA, we are developing internal team programs to explore and reinforce a supportive culture of collaboration and interdependence rooted in a passion for our mission, which leads to greater well-being for all.

We all will continue to manage abundant change for the foreseeable future, which, for some, is energizing and others, paralyzing. As leaders, we are responsible for recognizing when our teams are approaching a breaking point and connecting those we care deeply about with the support and tools needed to make them successful.