Building Better

Join your District management and leadership peers the second Wednesday of each month from 1:00-2:30 for the series

Having a leadership and/or management position at your District can often feel like a lonely and challenging role, but you are not alone! The Center for Technical Development (CTD), Washington State Conservation Commission (WSCC), Washington Association of District Employees (WADE), and Washington Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) have come together to bring you the Building Better: Leadership and Management Learning Community. The goal of this monthly series is to introduce different management/leadership related topics and provide information, insight, strategies and discussion amongst peers. Together we can build a better community of District leaders now and into the future.

This Months Meeting:

Wednesday, September 8 @ 1:00-2:30pm

Be a Bridge, not a Barrier: Managing the partnership with your Board and staff

Presenters: Tom Salzer, WACD and Panel of District Managers

Special guest speaker: Carol Smith, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Washington State Conservation Commission

The District Manager is the central pillar balancing two sides of a bridge with the Board and staff at opposite ends. When one side is stronger or pulls harder, the central pillar has to figure out how to create balance so the entire bridge doesn't collapse. Join us for a discussion with your peers on how to build a stronger sense of partnership with your Board and staff and learn ways to effectively manage your Board for success. Why? Because when the entire organization is pulling in the same direction, your District becomes even more effective, success is more satisfying, and conditions are more pleasant for all! We will also be joined by special guest (and almost retired) Dr. Carol Smith, Executive Director of the Washington State Conservation Commission. Carol will share her leadership and management journey and share words of wisdom on how to develop your skills to build stronger teams. This is one you wont want to miss!

Series Agenda

Wednesday, October 13 @ 1:00-2:30pm

What is my lane? What are the key elements of managing a District that you need to know

What support is out there to help you manage your District? How do I find those resources? The WSCC Regional Managers will share valuable information about your role as a managers and how to find the resources you need. A panel of your peers will also share their key resources and go-to assistance sources.

Wednesday, November 10 @ 1:00-2:30pm

How do you make a decision…no matter the outcome….and learn how that can help to make your next decision

There is always a risk in any decision you make, but through transparency and collaboration with your team, the risks are reduced. Learn techniques on how to assess the level of decision risk, how to avoid decision paralysis, and how a decision today may impact the trust others have in your decision making in the future.

Wednesday, December 8 @ 1:00-2:30pm

Growing great managers from the ground up

In two different Districts, a top conservation technician was promoted into management. Six months later, one is failing- has lost confidence in their work, their team doesn’t respect them, and they are considering quitting. In the other office, the transition has gone well- they have successfully refocused their work to their new role, strengthened their team's connection and passion for the work, and they are creatively partnering with other teams/ offices to increase their collective impact. This session is about preparing and supporting our new and future managers through this transition so they grow and flourish; about developing successful managers from within our Districts through planning; about a more sustainable leadership pipeline through community.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022 @ 1:00-2:30pm

Building a Better Future: Creating a better annual and long range plan and actually making it happen

What are your values and guide posts that keep you moving forward? How do you get your Board engaged in your mission and purpose? How do you create value to these plans and track them successfully? Gain valuable insight on creating better annual and long-range plans and setting individual staff goals that align with the goals of the District to achieve those plan outcomes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022 @ 1:00-2:30pm

Change management in an organization, how much is too much?

Change, too much or too fast, can be hard to absorb. How do you initiate change in a sustainable way with processes, people, products, and more.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022 @ 1:00-2:30pm

How to Build Lasting Partnerships

In today's natural resource management world it is essential to partner with local entities and Districts that do parallel work in your region. By nature of the grant system we all live in, if a District isn't successfully creating partnerships, then we naturally end up competing against each other. Join us in learning strategies on creating and maintaining consistent and fruitful communications with potential partners to identify project opportunities where common goals align. We will also examine how an existing meeting structure may just need a little refresh to create a friendly and equitable table where all voices can be heard to build the trust that leads to mutually beneficial outcomes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022 @ 1:00-2:30pm

Evaluating the Evaluator: Meaningful performance evaluations for managers

When was your last performance evaluation? Was it helpful to you? Do you find yourself completing timely performance evaluations for your direct reports, but not receiving that all important feedback yourself? Hear about methods for supporting your own performance evaluation process to ensure you receive meaningful feedback and how to implement that feedback to improve your performance, team, and office culture.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 @ 1:00-2:30pm

It not your IQ, it's your I WILL that makes you effective!

Being knowledgeable is only part of being effective. The other part is how you choose to convert your knowledge and ideas into actions. This presentation will combine productivity tips with life lessons shared by a panel of seasoned Conservation District leaders.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 @ 1:00-2:30pm

A tail of two leaders: Introverted and Extroverted leadership

The majority of leaders tend to be extroverts, but their talkative, out-going personalities don't automatically make them great leaders. Conversely, introverts tend to underestimate the value of their quiet, reserved qualities and avoid leadership roles. But the truth is, both extroverts and introverts make great leaders if they lead with authenticity and adopt good leadership skills and habits. Hear from two leaders on opposite ends of the introvert-extrovert spectrum and how they have both successfully led their teams. Embrace their stories of harnessing their personalities, learning how to balance their weaknesses, and the impact of learning valuable lessons along the way.

Suggested Learning Resources

One of the key attributes to great leaders and managers is their habit of on-going and veracious learning. Take the time to learn, get inspired, and generate new ideas daily.

Here are some suggested resources to move you forward:


(Curated by both your Building Better team and your fellow Distract leader colleagues)

  • Start With Why, Simon Sinek

  • Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek

  • Quite: The Power of Introverts, Susan Cain

  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

  • Dare to Lead, Brene Brown

  • Good to Great, Jim Collins

  • The 7 Habits of highly Effective People, Stephen Covey

  • Atomic Habits, James Clear

  • Drive, Daniel Pink

  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni

  • How to Be a Positive Leader, Jane Dutton and Gretchen Spreitzer

  • The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker

  • On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis

  • The One Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

  • First, Break All the Rules, Don Clifton

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

  • Principle-Centered Leadership, Stephen Covey

  • It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff


  • A Bit of Optimism (Simon Sinek) - Join Simon every week as he talks with people that inspire him, about love, life, leadership, and silver linings. The hope is that we all leave with something we need these days… A Bit of Optimism.

  • Dare To Lead (Brene Brown) - Inviting some of the biggest changemakers – from presidents to doctors – Brené stays true to her goal of creating a playbook for leaders of all levels. The quality of conversations she platforms on her show makes Dare to Lead one of the best leadership podcasts out there.

  • How I Built This (Guy Raz, NPR) - Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world's best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

  • TED Leadership - Hosted by Modupe Akinola of Columbia Business School, TED Business is one of the best leadership podcasts for anyone striving to overcome challenges in their position. The first half of each show includes a quick TED talk from some of the most influential leadership experts. In the second part, Modupe teaches you how to apply those lessons in your daily work.

  • As Told By Nomads (Tayo Rockson) - Tayo Rockson interviews global nomads, and entrepreneurs to discuss cultural complexities in business and communication. Tayo hosts one of the best leadership podcasts that recognizes the importance of interconnectivity.


  • 16 Personalities - Knowing more about your personality, and your teams, helps to work more effectively and better understand each other. Use this tool for personal evaluation and consider integrating into performance reviews to better function with staff and teams.

Have a topic idea or feedback on this series? Please let us know:

Brought to you in partnership by Center for Technical Development (CTD), Washington State Conservation Commission (WSCC), Washington Association of District Employees (WADE), and Washington Association of Conservation Districts (WACD).