Self Assessment Tool

May 2018

Civic Leadership

Self-Assessment Tool

for Potential Local Government Candidates


Deciding whether to run as a candidate for local government office is monumental and can be life-changing. The process of seeking election and running a political campaign is serious: it costs time and money, requires significant preparation and organization and is demanding on multiple levels. But this is only the start – if you are elected, the roles and responsibilities of a council member can be highly stressful, complex and directly affect the lives of citizens and your community every day. In either case, it is an intellectually, emotionally and physically challenging undertaking, and has the potential to affect not just you, but your family, friends, colleagues and business interests. As a public figure, you will forfeit a significant amount of personal privacy, and your actions, behaviour, decisions and values will be under constant and intense public and media scrutiny. Running for office is not a decision to be taken lightly or without thoroughly weighing all the considerations and consequences for your future.

What is the purpose of this Self-Assessment?

This tool is intended to assist potential candidates to assess their competencies and readiness to contribute effectively as an elected official at the local level. Before deciding to run for office, it is imperative to take a moment to reflect on your professional and personal strengths and weaknesses. Through a systematic self-evaluation, you will be better able to determine where you can offer meaningful, lasting contributions as a council member, and those areas where you need to focus your attention and build your skill set.

The questionnaire covers a range of elements that can contribute to the ability of an elected representative to perform their duties and effectively serve the community. The purpose of this tool is not to describe or identify the ideal candidate or council member, because the combination of skills and competencies that make up the highest performing council members is unique and varied. These areas of background, experience, knowledge and character are similar questions to those that might be asked if you were applying for a senior, executive level position in a large organization, and are based in part on the Province of B.C. Local Governance initiative.

By systematically reviewing a range of competencies, it will help potential candidates to evaluate the breadth and depth of a range of qualifications that would support them in serving the community effectively. It may also help you identify aspects of your background that are important to share with voters to let them know what you consider to be relevant skills and experience. Alternately, you may conclude that your skills are better suited to serve the community in other ways, or that you want to build your experience, qualifications and competencies to prepare to run at a later date.

In conclusion, if you answer “YES” to all or most questions, then you are likely ready to step into the world of elected office. If you answer “NO” or “DON’T KNOW” to many or most questions, this may indicate you need to take time to develop new skills or new information before to are ready to run.

Note: This tool does not cover the mechanics of running for office or managing an election campaign. For more information on this topic, visit the BC Elections site.


Your past work and life experience will help you serve in your position both as a council member and as part of a team. Think about how your experience is relevant to the role of a council member and how it has prepared you to take on this senior leadership role in the community.

For each question below, answer Yes/No and if applicable, briefly list your experience.

  1. I have experience serving in my community.

I have been a volunteer in the Community.

I have been a paid or volunteer Board member in my community.

I have been a member of a government (local, provincial, federal) committee, task force or other advisory body.


  1. I have actively participated in the municipal political process. 

I have attended or watched council meetings. 

I have written or petitioned Council.

I have presented as a delegation.

I have sat on a committee or task force.


  1. I have experience working as a public servant or for the public service and therefore understand the workings of government.
  1. I have served or worked as part of a senior-level executive team or board or directors responsible for collective decision-making on behalf of an organization.  


  1. I have experience in setting strategic direction and priorities, establishing and overseeing strategic and operational plans for a large organization.


  1. I have experience in human and/or financial resource management.


  1. I have experience working with multiple partners, stakeholders and/or other levels of government to collaborate and negotiate agreements or initiatives on behalf of an organization or company.
  1. I have experience communicating in front of large groups, making presentations, dealing with media, acting as a spokesperson for an organization.

Skills and Competencies

An individual’s skills and competencies are built and developed in multiple ways throughout one’s life, for example, with your family, at work, in sports, at school, as a volunteer. Everyone has a mix of skills and competencies. Some are especially relevant to the work of a public official, and will enable your success in your role to serve the public and the community. It is important to understand your strengths, but more important to identify areas for personal growth and improvement, to enable you to contribute effectively and positively in your role as an elected official and a member of team.

For each question below, answer Yes/No and provide an example where applicable.

  1. I have well developed leadership skills. Consider whether I have:
  • exhibited strong and effective leadership,
  • built and maintained trust with those I was leading,
  • demonstrated accountability to colleagues/employees/


  • acted proactively and strategically to address a potential challenge.
  1. I have well developed team work and collaboration skills. Consider whether I have:
  • been instrumental in building or participating on a successful and productive team,
  • effectively collaborated with others, especially when there are conflicting views,
  • Supported a team decision and direction, despite not fully agreeing with the approach,
  • been involved in collaborative decision-making.
  1. I am a diligent in my work and personal responsibilities. Consider whether I:
  • regularly plan ahead and prepare for important events or meetings,
  • am dependable, and consistently attend appointments and meetings on time,
  • compete projects or assignments accurately, fully and on time.
  1. I have solid critical thinking and analytical skills. Consider whether I:
  • can analyze large volumes of complex and competing information, data and options to make a decision,
  • undertake research to better understand complex issues,
  • ask questions when I do not fully understand something,
  • regularly make evidence-based decisions.
  1. I am self-aware. Consider whether I :
  • am receptive and responsive to criticism,
  • change my approach based on feedback,
  • can fairly represent people from all diverse groups, including those with which I may disagree,
  • have done personality testing to assess my strengths and weaknesses,
  • would be described by friends or colleagues as patient, open, tolerant.
  1. I strive to act with integrity, honesty and based on ethical principles. Consider whether I:
  • seek to resolve disputes or disagreements fairly and transparently,
  • act honestly to pay my bills, taxes and quickly resolve any financial payments or debts,
  • behave in a respectful and professional manner toward others,
  • have been in an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest and declared it,
  • inspire trust in people.
  1. I have strong communications skills. Consider whether I:
  • engage in active listening,
  • participate respectfully in discussions, debates or conversations,
  • can publicly explain complex, detailed and nuanced issues or topics,
  • can engage with and build support with a large group or audience,
  • can do effective media interviews,
  • regularly use a variety of social media platforms – personally? professionally?
  1. I am competent at establishing plans and priorities. Consider whether I:
  • have led or contributed to significant strategic planning or priority setting exercise(s),
  • have been involved in a successful project or implementation from planning through execution to completion,
  • know what steps to take if a plan or project encounters difficulty or failure.
  1. I have financial planning and management skills. Consider whether I have:
  • managed budgets professionally,
  • dealt with operating and capital budgets,
  • been involved in public capital projects,
  • been involved in the tendering or requests for proposals,
  • managed or been responsible for public funds.
  1. I have well developed negotiating and conflict resolution skills. Consider whether I:
  • intervened in a positive manner to negotiate a resolution to a dilemma or conflict,
  • have participated in collaborative decision making,
  • have negotiated agreements on behalf of another organization,
  • have negotiated contracts, agreements or memoranda of understanding,
  • have been part of a team or group that developed collective solutions to a problem.

Education and Training

Your education, professional training and other formal learning can contribute to your ability to successfully serve your community as an elected official. Some of of your education may provide general skills, such as critical thinking, writing, analyzing, researching. Your education may also be more directly applicable, such as public administration, law or professional courses in local government.

For each question below, answer Yes/No and where applicable, indicate your specific qualifications.

  1. I have successfully completed education that has help me build skills such as:
  • ability to read large volumes of complex information,
  • process, comprehend and analyze large amounts of information,
  • apply critical analysis skills.
  1. I hold professional designation(s), such as Chartered Professional Accountant, Lawyer, Urban Planner, or other(s) that reflect my skills, abilities and ethical standards.
  1. I have completed education or training in specific topic areas that could support work on council, such as Public Administration, Political Science, Accounting, Economics, Urban Planning, Engineering, Law, Criminology, Communications, Human Resources or Financial Management, project management, policy analysis and development, public engagement, strategic planning, team building, negotiating skills, other.


Every job requires a particular knowledge set, and the position of councillor, as a board member for the Corporation of the City of Nanaimo is no different. When applying for any senior role, it is important to learn and understand as much as possible about what the role entails. Of course, on the job learning always happens, but if you want to hit the ground running and make valued contributions, you need to consider what you can learn in advance.

For each question below, provide a few short bullets to respond. (Answers will be discussed at the introductory session.)

  1. What is local government?
  2. What legislation, rules and other documents govern the activities and decisions of Council?
  3. What are the duties, roles and responsibilities of a member of local Council?
  4. What is the role of the Mayor?
  5. Describe the difference in roles between elected officials and city staff.
  6. Explain the difference between local, provincial and federal government jurisdictions.
  7. What is your level of knowledge about the City of Nanaimo, e.g.
  • List the key community planning documents that guide Nanaimo Council.
  • What are the annual capital and operating budgets of the City of Nanaimo?
  • What is the budget cycle and process for the City?
  • What are the key sources of City revenues?
  • What are the key areas of expenditures for the City?
  • How many employees does the City of Nanaimo have?
  • Who are the City of Nanaimo’s key partners and stakeholders?

Personal Considerations

In addition to your qualifications to run for office, there are many personal factors to consider. This may a role you have been considering and preparing to take on for some time. Or you may have been recently motivated by circumstances to come forward and serve your community. In either case, it is important to reflect carefully about whether you have the right mix of skills, commitment and if this is the right time for you to run for office.

For the questions below, answer Yes/No and provide a few short bullets to respond as appropriate.

  1. I am motivated to run for multiple reasons (as opposed to a single issue or reason)? Briefly explain.
  1. I have carefully considered how campaigning and potential election to a part-time position will impact my employment status and personal/family financial position? I have considered plans or strategies to address these potential challenges.
  1. I have reviewed my financial interests and/or other activities in my current professional, personal or community responsibilities that could create a conflict of interest in my role as a council member should I be elected. I have considered steps I would take to address this.
  1. I have spoken with my family members to discuss the implications and consequences associated with running for council.
  1. I have considered the implications of increased public attention, time obligations to attend evening meetings, financial pressures, confidentiality requirements, stress of a new job, etc.
  1. I have visited the BC Elections site.
  1. Based on my overall responses in this questionnaire, I would assess my potential to be a highly effective member of council at this time? What are your key strengths/gaps?

Policy & Vision

The moment you signal your intention to run as a candidate, citizens and media will want to know what your position and views are on virtually every issue facing the City of Nanaimo. It is important for you to think about your position on issues, and be prepared to answer questions and articulate your policy platform and vision for the City.

For the questions below, answer Yes/No and provide a few short bullets to respond as appropriate.

  1. I have articulated a policy platform. I have considered my vision for the City.
  1. If elected, I am ready to compromise on my ideas and /or accept some of the ideas of my new councillor colleagues. I have considered how I would reconcile my vision with those of my newly elected colleagues to establish a strategic vision, plan and priorities for the City of Nanaimo.
  1. I have a solid grasp of the challenges and opportunities currently facing Nanaimo and the region. Based on my understanding about the current status and situation of the City of Nanaimo, I have considered the 3-5 priority areas that need to be addressed in the first 100 days by a new council.

Civic Leadership

Civic leadership presentation document