Leadership & Management

Live Events

Spotlight On Leadership & Management

PWX@Home works around your busy lifestyle. You can choose one afternoon per month to set aside and embrace an all-new virtual learning experience. The second Tuesday of each month from August through July, APWA will unveil education in 12 key public works focus areas. The series features sessions on relevant topics—most of which were selected for PWX 2020 in varying formats to maximize learning and engagement.

View all 2020-2021 Spotlight On... Series sessions >

December 8, 2020
1:00–4:30 p.m. CT

Attend three Leadership & Management sessions for one low price! Registration is $50 for Members and $75 for Non-Members. Registration discounts are available when registering groups and for the entire annual series. Participants are eligible for up to 0.3 CEUs for this program.

Register for December      Register for Annual Series

Span of Control: Using it as a Strategic Tool for Organizational Planning

Speakers: Harry Lorick, John Lyons

Span of control (SOC) is the number of people a manager can supervise effectively, and can be broadly categorized as narrow or wide. Understanding the cost/benefit of wide versus narrow spans of control, and implementing the appropriate span, is paramount to an agency’s success. With improvements in technology/CMMS, agencies have increased their span of control to an average between 5:1 to 8:1, with some agencies functioning at over 20:1. Increases in SOC help agencies save money and operate more efficiently, however, it is not necessarily the most beneficial structure. This presentation will identify the different categories associated with SOC, affecting factors, impact, and applicable concepts. The relationship between span of control and management levels will be discussed. Moving towards an optimal SOC will improve the morale of both management and staff. The audience will learn what other agencies have experienced and be able to identify the value of appropriate spans of control. The first speaker, as Assistant County Administrator of one of the largest Counties in Florida, is a seasoned public works and public utilities professional. The second speaker is a PWLF and member of APWA’s Leadership and Management Committee.

Proficiency Level: Applied

Learning Objectives:
1. Recognize the span of control within an agency and be aware of the relationship to management levels and efficiency.
2. Discuss the factors that affect the span of control, including new technologies and how they may apply to an agency.
3. Apply general management concepts to identify appropriate span of control within their agency.

Developing a Culture of Leadership

Speakers: Zach Blodgett, Laura Yanez, Jason Stawski, Rocky Henkel, Jacqueline Thompson

The intent of this project is to help professionals in the Public Works field develop a culture of leadership within all levels of their organization and provide opportunities to lead in real life situations, including in times of crisis. Additionally, to provide resources and tools to help others understand and implement ways to identify, empower, and entrust emerging leaders. By reflecting on ideas, tactics, and principles, professionals who implement these can assist in building a culture of leadership within their organization.

Proficiency Level: Applied

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify organizational leadership needs and leadership potential within individuals for the purpose of equipping them to develop as effective leaders to fill those needs.
2. Empower leaders to foster growth and develop a culture that supports leadership.
3. Develop opportunities to Entrust leaders to gain leadership experience within the workplace that will allow them to lead in real life situations, including times of a crisis. 

Safety First: Going Beyond the Slogans

Speakers: John Kellas, Steve Aitcheson, Jeffrey Castonguay, James Patteson

What does the phrase “Safety First” mean to you? Is it a slogan, or does it drive everything you do? Explore lessons learned by two agencies on how to go beyond the slogans and create a safety-first culture that REALLY prevents injuries and saves lives. Public Works employees perform duties that are amongst the most dangerous in America. Refuse collectors and maintenance workers suffer higher fatality rates than their counterparts in public safety. After a fatal accident, Fairfax County transformed its program from one that provided a false sense of security to one with a values-based approach focused on accountability. Their program became nationally recognized as most improved by SWANA. Carroll County initiated a “From Zero to Robust” program to launch numerous safety initiatives. Creating a safe workplace is a core responsibility of every employer, and this presentation will provide lessons learned, how-to strategies, and innovative approaches on how to build a meaningful program in your organization.

Proficiency Level: TBD

Learning Objectives:
1. Evaluate organizational safety programs and identify leadership, management, and system gaps.
2. Implement innovative approaches and technologies to develop a robust, values-center safety program that goes beyond mere compliance and improves worker morale and performance.
3. Utilize predictive performance metrics and leading indicators to reduce injuries and accidents.

Small Cities/Rural Communities Perspective On Leadership & Management

December 2, 2020
Noon1:00 p.m. CT

SC/RC Perspective: Leading and Managing is Not Just Leading and Managing in Small Cities/Rural Communities

Leading and Managing a Public Works department in a small city / rural community means wearing multiple hats, effective communication, and benchmarking best practices.  This panel will discuss what it takes to lead and manage staff, projects, and expectations in a small city or rural community.

Registration is FREE for Members and Non-Members. You can register for the entire year of programming or by each individual program.

Register for December      Register for Annual Series

Third Thursday Advocacy Jam: Leadership & Management

December 17, 2020
2:303:30 p.m. CT

As 2020 draws to a close and we look ahead to next year, APWA’s U.S. and Canadian Government Affairs team must prepare for the 117th Congress and Canada’s 2021 Federal Budget. Guiding APWA’s entire U.S. and Canadian advocacy operations on Capitol Hill in both D.C. and Ottawa are the respective Public Policy Priorities which provide detailed information and specific policy recommendations on a wide array of public works issues including transportation, emergency management, water resiliency, and more. Please join us for an interactive discussion of these priorities, ask questions about how these priorities are developed and can be utilized, and share your own advocacy experiences. 2021 promises to be a critical year in public policy and public works – join the conversation as we discuss the path forward!

Registration is FREE for Members and Non-Members. You can register for the entire year of programming or by each individual program.

Register for December      Register for Annual Series

Principles of Public Works Self-Assessment Live Workshop

December 3, 2020
12:30–3:30 p.m. CT

Public works self-assessment provides opportunities for continuous improvement for your overall operations, ultimately leading to better quality of life for your community. The Principles of PW Self-Assessment virtual workshop has been developed with a focus on understanding the practices and completing the self-assessment process using the manual and software.

The newly revised Public Works Management Practices Manual, 10th Ed (PWMPM) is the must-have guide for evaluating your agency’s operations through self-assessment. Developed by and for public works professionals, the PWMPM contains 534 practices and a new chapter on asset management.

Following this program, participants will be better able to:
1. Articulate how the self-assessment process can improve an agency’s operations.
2. Implement a self-assessment process to evaluate and improve existing practices while developing new processes accordingly.
3. Use the 10th Ed. PWMP manual and software, develop tools to organize and maintain momentum to complete the self-assessment.

This program will be worth 0.3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

Register Now

Purchase Manual

CLL: Protecting & Leading People During Reopening of Government

December 16, 2020
10:00-11:00 a.m. CT

Reopening government facilities for employees and the public after a pandemic is more than just unlocking doors.  Leaders must consider the safety of everyone that enters the building, and safety requires planning.  This panel will discuss challenges and innovations related to facility cleaning as well as the leadership required to open government facilities to the public and employees.

This program is sponsored by the APWA Leadership & Management and Facilities & Grounds Committees. Participants are eligible for .1 CEUs.

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On Demand eLearning Opportunities

Habits of Dysfunctional Leaders

Identify, manage and avoid dysfunctional leadership habits. Leadership teams can be an organization’s greatest strength or its greatest weakness, based on leadership styles and habits. Dysfunctional leaders have a big impact on an organization; from team productivity to employee morale, leaders are pivotal to team dynamics and productivity. Even great leaders are not great 100% of the time. It is important for leaders to commit to self-awareness, solid relationships and accountability. This course will help leaders identify areas that may need improvement. It will also help employees identify dysfunctional leaders and determine how to successfully work with individuals who employ these behaviors.

CEUs: eligible for .2 CEUs upon course completion.

SPECIAL OFFER: Use Coupon Code DEC20 at checkout for 20% off. Offer available December 1-31, 2020.

Purchase From APWA Store

Ethics in Public Works

This two-course program is designed for individuals that are interested in exploring ethics; as it applies personally, professionally, in supervision and in management. Course materials provide practical advice on ethics and emphasize the importance of ethical behavior in personal and professional interactions. They provide real-world examples, as well as advice in dealing with the non-technical aspects of our profession.

SPECIAL OFFER: Use Coupon Code DEC20 at checkout for 20% off. Offer available December 1-31, 2020.

Purchase Program Bundle

  • Ethics for Public Works Professionals

    This course is designed for individuals that are interested in exploring ethics, as it applies personally and professionally. This course provides practical advice on ethics and emphasizes the importance of ethical behavior in personal and professional interactions. It provides real-world examples, as well as advice in dealing with the non-technical aspects of our profession. CEUs: eligible for .2 CEUs upon completion.

    SPECIAL OFFER: Use Coupon Code DEC20 at checkout for 20% off. Offer available December 1-31, 2020.

    Purchase From APWA Store

  • Ethics for Public Works Supervisors

    This course is designed for individuals that are interested in exploring ethics, as it applies to supervision and management. Ethics are complicated. Sometimes public works professionals are faced with difficult public policy choices that may stretch our ethical boundaries. Leading in the context of our own ethics is challenging enough, but leaders must also manage the ethics of others and discover how to create and maintain an ethical culture. Public works leaders must walk the talk, set the tone, hold themselves accountable, and strive to create a culture of openness, democracy, merit, and creativity. Only by exercising the principles of ethical leadership can we meet the challenges of the future and sustain the public’s trust in our decisions and stewardship of public resources. CEUs: eligible for .2 CEUs upon completion.

    SPECIAL OFFER: Use Coupon Code DEC20 at checkout for 20% off. Offer available December 1-31, 2020.

    Purchase From APWA Store

Members' Library Highlights

Members can access recordings of Click, Listen, & Learn programs, content from past conferences, and specific e-books and publications on demand 24/7 through the Members' Library. We'll feature three to four exciting programs related to the month's highlighted technical area.

Innovation Trends - How Did They Do That? Innovations, Cool Tricks and Exciting Projects
The APWA Reporter Series “How Did They Do That?” comes to life in this fast-paced presentation where members of APWA’s Leadership and Management Committee and other authors of the series will share the projects and innovative approaches and technologies they have implemented in their organizations. We guarantee that you will be surprised and inspired and will take-away ideas that you can easily replicate in your operations.

Leaders in the Mist - Observations about Leaders and Leadership
Here's a nice opportunity for you to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience garnered by a long-time public works leader and former APWA Board member. Leadership in the public sector has its own challenges and approaches. Come to this session and learn about the role of emotional intelligence in successful leadership; strategies for leading successful change efforts; and what it means to "manage from the middle".

You Can’t Lead from Behind a Desk
“Get out of the office and circulate among the troops.” We’ve all seen the version of this where the boss joins the crew for a day, poses for a picture in a hard hat, and then is never seen again. Don’t miss this presentation by a public works leader who has adopted a regular, repeating program of inserting himself into workgroups. Every two or three weeks, he spends an entire workday as a member of a crew. He tells the crew to treat him like an extra, if unskilled, pair of hands. Invariably the barriers come down after a couple of hours and after the conversations about sports and families subside, questions are freely asked. Honest answers are a must, but this approach has strengthened relationships, countered bad perceptions, enhanced communication and built trust.

Trending Technologies/Roving Reporter

Trying to keep up with the latest and greatest #trendingtech in public works? You're in luck! APWA is highlighting a new trending technology by way of our Talking Top Tech webinars, Roving Reporter Education Series, and new resources and programs. You can even share your own Roving Reporter videos on social media using #APWARovingReporter.

PW Tech Management: Leadership in New Technology Reporter Series
Effective implementation of new technology requires the combination of excellent technical knowledge and leadership skills. This collaborative series produced by the Leadership & Management Committee and Engineering & Technology Committee appeared monthly in the 2019 Reporter.

Career Development/Workforce

Live Program

Leadership in Workforce Development: Challenges & Strategies
December 15, 2020
2:00–3:00 p.m. CT

Public works, like many other industries, faces serious challenges in developing its workforce that have only been amplified by COVID-19. An aging workforce, a growing ‘skills gap’, and falling revenues all can contribute to difficulties in filling critical public works positions. Join us for a live virtual panel of public works leaders from across the country discussing the unique issues the public works workforce faces and innovative strategies they have implemented.

Register Now


Bringing Them In! Promoting the Public Works Profession
Southern California public and private engineers are reaching out to high schools, through the Become an Engineer program, to encourage students to pursue careers in engineering and public works. In addition, the SoCal APWA Chapter’s Young Professionals committee is targeting local college students to inform them about the importance, mission, and values of the public works profession. This presentation will feature the experiences of an established public works leader and an emerging leader in promoting the public works profession.

Developing Your Team and Your Bench: Assessment Tools to Support Productivity and Succession Planning
While lots of leadership articles emphasize the benefits of having people with different skill sets, perspectives, and levels of experience on the team, in practice these differences can cause many day-to-day challenges. Individuals can butt heads about priorities and how to approach the work, or simply struggled to see eye-to-eye. Assessment tools can help teams name and discuss their differences in ways that can bring insight rather than frustration. This session will discuss several well-known assessment tools and their value in opening the lines of communication and pull individuals together into productive, engaged teams.

Second Chances: Embracing the Transitioning Workforce Back into the Civilian Workforce
RISE (Reentry Initiative through Structured Employment) - The City of Fishers, Indiana, has created an inspiring program designed to both recruit highly motivated employees into public works positions and, more importantly, help in the rehabilitation process of citizens who made bad choices, paid their debt to society, and are now faced with the challenge of finding meaningful employment. Feeling that just providing employment is not enough, they established a monthly training regimen that includes basic personal financial management skills. Participants are also given the option of going through the agency's in-house CDL class. If there are positions available when participants complete the program, an opportunity is offered for them to apply for full-time employment. If no positions are open and they were model employees, they can receive a letter of reference from the Mayor.

Overcoming the Challenges to Bring More Women into the Trades
Women represent just 4 percent of the workforce in natural resources, construction, and maintenance. By increasing outreach to attract more women into public works careers, a community can increase diversity in the qualified applicant pool. We’ll discuss the challenges women face in careers in the infrastructure trades and suggest ways for employers to be intentional about developing a diverse workplace culture.


CPWP-S logo

Certified Public Works Professional-Supervision (CPWP-S)
The Public Works Professional-Supervision certification is to recognize individuals in the public works field who have the knowledge and experience to supervise areas in a public works organization. It is for public works supervisors, crew leaders and frontline employees ready for supervisory positions.

CPWP-M logoCertified Public Works Professional-Management (CPWP-M)
The Public Works Professional-Management certification is issued to recognize individuals in the public works field who have the knowledge and experience to manage organizations within a public works department. The Public Works Professional-Management certification is for public works managers, superintendents, and supervisors ready for management positions.

Exhibitor Showcase

Check out the Exhibitor Showcase to find the best resources for public works, as well as informational videos and product information.

Be sure to check out our New Product Showcase and vote for the Best New Product of 2020. Voting closes December 4, and the winner will be announced December 8.

Visit the Exhibitor Showcase

Thank you to our Welcome Sponsor:

Leadership & Management Resources

ELA Class XII Project: Developing a Culture of Leadership

People, the Engine of Public Works
The Leadership & Management Committee’s 2020 Reporter series (People, the Engine of Public Works) tackles workforce issues like recruiting, employee retention, and measuring morale. The series of articles remind readers that much of public works is taking care of its most important asset, people.

PW Self-Assessment Toolbox: Leadership & Management Coming Soon!
This Toolbox series is your introduction to APWA’s PW Self-Assessment. Each month a new topic will be highlighted through self-assessment checklists, model practices from APWA Accredited Agencies, and educational resources. Self-assessment is a valuable tool for determining how an agency's policies, procedures, and processes compare to recommended practices identified by nationally recognized experts in the field of public works. Public works self-assessment provides opportunities for continuous improvement for your overall operations, ultimately leading to better quality of life for your community.

Publication Highlights

Each month two to three publications or products will be highlighted from the APWA Store corresponding to the monthly technical area.

A Public Finance Primer for Public Works Professionals
Do you and your finance officer speak the same language? This book, by a CPA who learned 'to speak public works' through her local government work experience, will give you insight into the accountant's mind. After reading this primer you'll have a better grasp of the terminology and concepts you need to know so that you and the finance officer can both get your jobs done.

SPECIAL OFFER: For a limited time only, purchase A Public Finance Primer for Public Works Professionals at a 20% discount. Use the Coupon Code DEC20 at checkout. Offer available December 1-31, 2020.

Public Works Administration: Supervision and Management
This successor to APWA's 2008, highly successful Public Works Administration expands on a subject only minimally covered in that book—the management of people. It is no longer enough for a public works leader to be technically competent. Successful public works managers and supervisors also must have the ability to lead, manage, inspire, and communicate. This publication—the "Yellow Book"—discusses supervisory techniques; delves into basic management, communication, and leadership skills; and considers dimensions of community service and customer orientation skills.

Public Works Administration: Operations
APWA’s new “Blue Book,” a companion to Public Works Administration: Supervision and Management, focuses on the external environment of public works with such issues as finance, law, and fundamentals of government. It also includes an overview of public works operations and concludes with one of the most important aspects of public works leadership—creating the future.

This book includes a look at strategic planning, systems thinking, policy development, and other vital forward-looking techniques.

Executive Soft Skills Pocket Guide
Executive managers in public works get their jobs because of excellent technical and leadership skills. But to succeed they must also master the "soft skills" that will get the hard results! This pocket guide provides tips on managing meetings, communicating effectively, handling media, promoting your agency's message, and building constructive work relationships.

Committee News

APWA Committees are the backbone of our education program. You'll be the first to see committee chair videos, trending committee hashtags for social media, InfoNOW Communities, knowledge team and subcommittee opportunities, and more!

The mission of the Leadership & Management Committee is to advance public works professionalism through research, application and advocacy of innovative leadership and best management practices and to provide resources to public works professionals in management and leadership.

#APWALeads is the hashtag used by the Leadership & Management Committee.