AT ACCG, we pride ourselves on our educational offerings in our leadership development program. We are firm believers in the adage of lifelong learning—in order for one to continue to grow and evolve, they must never stop learning. That is why we strongly encourage active participation in our Lifelong Learning Academy education and training program. As times change, so do the circumstances under which county government officials are expected to carry out their official duties and deliver services to their constituents. Thus, ACCG constantly revamps the curriculum of the course offerings to help ensure Georgia’s county officials receive the most relevant information possible.
Though we continually remind our members about the importance of attending courses in the Lifelong Learning Academy, we also stress the importance of learning from others— especially those who have been in office longer than us. Connecting with and learning from other county officials is one of the most invaluable benefits of the ACCG training and education program. Peer-to-peer learning or developing a mentor-mentee relationship with other county officials will help transform your public service career in ways that you may have never imagined.
There are many reasons why establishing relationships with those who have been in office longer than you can be beneficial. First and foremost, such relationships afford a wealth of knowledge that you can tap into that may not be provided elsewhere. Veteran county officials possess firsthand experience and knowledge in areas in which you are looking to grow and even explore. They can share their successes along with their trials that can provide insight into things that you may have never considered. As you learn from their experiences, they can serve as your sounding board to help propose solutions to challenges you may be facing in your local community or help build upon and refine an idea you may have.
We all need trusted advisors and a network that will help keep us accountable all while challenging us to be the best versions ourselves. Those peer-to-peer exchanges and mentor-mentee relationships can do just that. Peer-to-peer exchanges produce engaging learning environments that allow you to have healthy, challenging dialogue about pressing issues that may not occur as candidly as they would elsewhere. Not only that, those exchanges are fostered by empathy as the very individuals you have dialogue with also endure the unique challenges of county government. On the other hand, mentors can help you identify necessary areas of improvement and recognize gifts in you that you have yet to realize yourself. Mentors help stimulate our personal and professional growth by encouraging us to set goals. In addition to encouraging us to set goals, they help us keep track of the progress we’ve made. Once again, they hold us accountable.
The lesson in this is there is an invaluable benefit in the many training and education opportunities offered by the association. Yes, you will gain a sense of accomplishment by becoming a certified county official and achieving numerous specialty track certifications —we encourage both. However, we also strongly encourage you to take advantage of every opportunity that places you amongst your fellow commissioners. You never know what you might learn from the person sitting next to you in one of your Lifelong Learning Academy courses or from the person you bonded with over lunch during an ACCG event.