Magazine article Government Finance Review

City Management Institute: A Blueprint for Leadership Succession

Magazine article Government Finance Review

City Management Institute: A Blueprint for Leadership Succession

Article excerpt

The City of Sacramento's City Management Institute helps it identify and groom future city leaders.

The City of Sacramento, Califor-nia, is the state capital and was founded in 1849, and is the oldest incorporated city in the state. It is a city council-city manager form of government, with eight separate council districts. The population is approximately 450,000, with a budget of $964.6 million and 5,222 full-time equivalent positions.

In 2000, the city manager's office began to recognize the impending retirement projections among the baby boomer population, notably in the city's senior management ranks. In 2006, projections were updated as illustrated in Exhibit 1: 62 percent of senior managers would be eligible to retire in five years.

One choice facing organizations is whether to invest in external or internal leadership and management development programs. In its national study, Cooperative Personnel Services (CPS) Human Resource Services identified three things needed by future leaders:1

* Knowledge and understanding outside the employee's own department or functional area,

* Knowledge and understanding at the enterprise level, and

* A broad network of relationships.

While external programs provide valuable theory, models, and best practices, internal programs are best suited to address these three needs.

Sacramento established "The City Management Institute" (CMI) as its primary leadership succession strategy to address these needs. The program became fully operational and branded with a logo in 2002.

The purpose of CMI is to provide highly qualified supervisors and managers with assessment and development activities to help them pursue senior management (division manager) and executive (department director) challenges and positions in the city. The program is designed and implemented by the city's Organizational Development (OD) Division, which is part of the Department of Human Resources.

This article will describe the CMI program, including goals, criteria, content, selection, components, budget, and evaluation. This case study and the questions offered in the conclusion can serve as a blueprint for leadership succession in other organizations.


Aligned with the three needs identified by the CPS study, the goals of the CMI include:

* Establish a highly qualified and diverse pool of candidates for consideration for city leadership advancement,

* Provide participants with a broad perspective of the complexities of city operations,

* Assess participants' individual leadership strengths and identify development opportunities,

* Expose participants to core leadership and management competencies that are required to perform successfully as a division manager or department director,

* Facilitate productive relationships among the CMI group and leaders in the organization.


The CMI seeks a diverse pool of candidates with leadership potential, reflective of the organization, and who meet the following criteria:

* Can commit to attending the nine-month program in its entirety,

* Complete the city's two-day inclusion (diversity) workshop: "Creating an Inclusive Workplace,"

* Possess increasingly responsible and successful experience in supervision, management, project management, and/or policy development (within the city or elsewhere),

* Meet or exceed expectations in overall job/work performance, and

* Demonstrate competency and commitment to successfully perform as a division manager or department director, including leadership talent and the ability to work effectively with diverse individuals and teams.

Generally speaking, employees who currently report to a division manager or department director are strong candidates. Examples of job classification among past participants include administrative officer, fire captain, parks/recreation superintendent, police lieutenant, special projects manager, program manager, program specialist, senior management analyst, and supervising engineer. …

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