Executive Certificates in Local Government Leadership

Executive Certificate for Municipal Councillors and Senior Municipal Officials

Local governments across Canada are in a state of transition. Where once they had to address complicated problems such as the provision of clean water, solid waste management, leisure services and streets and sidewalks now they are confronted with complex problems such as responding to issues of public safety, economic development, the environment and even health and poverty. Addressing complicated problems requires a traditional, linear approach to problem solving which can often find a champion in a municipal department. On the other hand complex problems require a concerted and coordinated effort of all departments, governmental and non-governmental agencies and the business community. No longer are there clear black and white choices to be made. Rather the role of the successful leader will require the ability to navigate ambiguity. Moreover there is an increasing desire on the part of the citizenry to be meaningfully engaged in the governance of their communities. All of this requires a different way of defining problems and a different way for leadership to be expressed at the senior levels of local government. The underlying premise is that leadership, within a municipality, is a shared function that is best exercised when elected and appointed municipal officials have a common understanding of the strategic issues and are able and committed to working cooperatively with one another and with community stakeholders.

Who should enroll in this executive certificate?

This certificate is intended for senior municipal administrators and municipal councillors. It will be of value to chief administrative officers or the equivalent as well as those who exercise senior management functions at the departmental level, interact with council and who have completed academic or professional development programs at the post-secondary level. Consideration will be given to candidates who do not possess the normal pre-requisites but, who by virtue of experience, would otherwise qualify for admission. It will also be of value to new chief administrative officers as well as those who aspire to this position.

This certificate is also intended for municipal councillors who want to be able to develop a new way to provide leadership within their municipality. This is the first time that Dalhousie University has offered a professional development certificate that is specifically targeted to the needs of councillors and senior staff as a learning cohort.

This is a national program and as such participants will be drawn from across the Canada.

How does the executive certificate work?

The executive certificate is offered entirely online. The online environment encourages debate and discussion with other students from across Canada and is not bound by time differences and geography. Without the need for travel it becomes a very cost effective method for learning. The learning platform is quite easy to navigate and a dedicated staff person is always available to make sure that you are able to fully participate.

The course will be delivered in a highly interactive manner with an abundance of facilitated online discussions, structured experiences, case studies, videos, webinars as well as readings. Everything that you need will be online. The vast majority of the course will be asynchronous which means that you will be able to participate when your schedule permits.

The course will be offered annually over a 10-12 week period beginning in 2017. The course enrollment will be strictly limited to 25 registrants to ensure a quality interactive learning experience.

What will I receive at the completion?

Students who successfully complete all the requirements of the program of study will be awarded an Executive Certificate from Dalhousie University. Successful completion means that students will need to read all assigned readings, participate in online discussions, make online postings, and prepare and submit assignments as required. Assignments will be applied in nature and will help students address real issues in their municpality. The passing grade is 60%. Those considering this program should be prepared to devote approximately six hours per week in reading, participation and assignment preparation.

Program Facilitator - Gordon McIntosh, Ph.D. & CLGM
, has received wide acclaim for providing dynamic training sessions involving civic officials and staff throughout Canada and overseas. Gordon has 36 years of executive, consultant and educator roles in local and regional government. Dr. McIntosh’s current research is focused on the situational leadership success of Chief Administrative Officers.

Please contact us for information regarding our limited number of scholarships.

Leaflet [PDF - 173 KB]
Application Form [PDF - 312 KB]

The Political/Administrative Alignment Imperative

If a car’s wheels are not aligned, we use excess gas, tire tread and physical energy to stay on the road. Both the driver and passengers become uncomfortable and lose confidence in the vehicle and journey. Likewise, political/administrative alignment is critical for effective local governance and service delivery. Today, public expectations, strategic matters and community needs amidst limited resources require critical attention to elected official/staff relations.

Join peers and civic thought leaders throughout Canada to discuss concepts, strategies, tools and skills to help you and your organization’s capacity to:

  • Respond to the modern complexities of local government
  • Define political roles of elected officials and the Chief Elected Official (CEO)
  • Clarify administrative responsibilities of staff and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)
  • Enhance policy-making, fiscal management, public communication and strategic practices
  • Ensure an effective CAO/CEO relationship to guide the organization
  • Use a dashboard to identify and remedy or prevent alignment challenges

Political and professional skills alone do guarantee success in navigating the ‘grey’ aspects of the interface between governance and administrative functions in local, regional and First Nation government. Take time to fine-tune your personal leadership capabilities.

Course Dates: March 30 - June 15, 2020

Fee: $3495

Application Intake Dates:
1st Intake: January 31, 2020
2nd Intake: February14, 2020
3rd Intake: March 6, 2020

Leaflet Spring 2020 [PDF - 173KB]
Application Form Spring 2020 [PDF - 176KB]

Submit online to: locgovt@dal.ca

The Strategic Alignment Imperative

Organizational effectiveness is heavily dependent on strategic alignment. Local and regional governments must secure support and resources from their community and beyond. As well, staff and elected officials need to be ‘on the same page’ to efficiently deploy organizational effort and resources.

Now more than ever, local government professionals, managers and elected officials require creative approaches to seek strategic alignment. Community safety, aging infrastructure, climate change, fiscal sustainability and economic readiness are just a few dominant strategic topics that defy traditional strategic planning.

Join colleagues across Canada through a social innovation laboratory to address ‘real time’ organizational and community challenges (& opportunities).

  • Understand systems thinking and social innovation concepts
  • Leverage community and external expertise and resources
  • Analyze the context and focus of complex topics
  • Design a social innovation approach for a real time’ strategic topic
  • Develop practical solution seeking strategies and action plans
  • Obtain diverse stakeholder ownership or buy-in to corporate strategies
  • Facilitate groups in multi-stage strategic processes

The program begins with concepts, tools and insights from over 20 thought leaders on civic trends and topics. Each learning cohort will be able to identify a ‘real time’ topic of interest and develop a social innovation process proposal to address the selected challenge. The program will culminate with a truly unique social laboratory discussion.

Course Dates: November 17, 2019 - February 9, 2020

Fee: $3495

Intake Date:
Final Intake: November 1, 2019

Leaflet Fall 2019 [PDF - 60KB]
Application Form Fall 2019 [PDF - 170KB]

Submit Online to: locgovt@dal.ca