The half-day introductory workshop established by The National Institute for Civil Discourse entitled, “Building Trust through Civil Discourse,” was an outgrowth of an effort by The Council of State Governments Midwest, which brought together two legislators from different political backgrounds and different states for a workshop at its annual regional conference in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2012. Rep. Ted Celeste, a Democrat from Columbus, Ohio, and Rep. Scott Raecker, a Republican from Urbandale, Iowa, teamed up to facilitate this first session for legislators from the Midwest region. CSG promoted the session in its materials about the annual conference, but did not have any idea how much interest there might be in the program.

By Frank Shafroth, Director of the Center for State and Local Government Leadership

Key state leadership is about focus—taking away partisanship and getting to the heart of the problem. Former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, who also served as a state legislator, mayor and governor, once told me he had struggled hard to try and determine how one could distinguish between a Republican versus a Democratic pothole. His view was always to try and understand the problem, what it would take to fix it, and who could help him fix it.

By Dennis L. Dresang

Officials in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state governments need all the traits and skills required of leaders generally. They must have vision, passion and energy. They must be able to communicate and both command respect and be respectful. The institutions of government and the values of public service place unique demands on state government leaders ... the general characteristics of leaders are not enough when serving in the state legislature.

By Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

Throughout my career, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to serve Nevada as a legislator, gaming regulator, attorney general, federal judge and now as governor. To have worked in all three branches of government has broadened my perspective, and my experiences have been a tremendous asset in my current job as governor. Each branch is very distinct, and each position presents a unique set of challenges. That being said, the one constant, no matter the position, has been the necessity to make key decisions and, when the time comes, to lead.

It is not what you say that matters, it is what they hear.

And, according to Deb Sofield, the public speaking coach at the CSG West Women in Politics session, “they hear less and less.”

While much of Sofield’s presentation, “Next Level Leadership: Promoting Your Position,” was directed primarily to women and about empowering them to be leaders, her advice on making the most of public speaking and media opportunities applies to all elected officials.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments commends the National Conference of State Legislatures on 40 years of exceptional service to the states; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments celebrates the tireless efforts of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ leaders, members, management and staff in advancing and sustaining the role of the states in our federal system.

When Susan O’Malley was in junior high school, she wrote a paper about what she wanted to do when she grew up—be president of an NBA franchise.

While her teacher gave her high marks for the paper, she told O’Malley it was an unrealistic goal for a young girl.

O’Malley was the first woman to serve as president of a professional sports franchise when, in 1991, she was picked to lead the Washington Bullets. She left the NBA Board of Governors meeting in May wondering how she would turn around what she called “a mess of a franchise.”

So she turned to the lessons of leadership she learned at home, the same lessons she shared with the attendees at Sunday’s luncheon session, “Seven Leadership and Life Lessons.” She threw in an eighth rule for good measure.

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By Beth Harwell, Tennessee House Speaker

Leadership, in its widest sense, is simply an extension of human talents, but it is of use for the benefit of others as much as for oneself.

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By Daniel Goleman

Ask a room of leaders “What should leaders do?” and you’ll likely hear only one response. A leader should get results. But how?

Leaders with the best results do not rely on only one leadership style; they incorporate several—seamlessly—depending on the situation.

By Therese Murray, Massachusetts Senate President

As president of the Massachusetts Senate, I have encountered—and still encounter—many challenges. Being a leader is never without struggle, but it can be especially difficult when you are also a woman.