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Designing Your Work Life Book Club on April 18

The Leadership Development Committee is excited to continue our book club discussion series on April 18th from 11:00 am to noon PT. We’re reprising the January discussion with Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. The book introduces design thinking to living, learning, and succeeding in our work lives. The concept is thinking like a designer. What exactly does that mean?

Design Thinking Includes:

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Leadership Development Committee Virtual Book Club!

The Leadership Development Committee is excited to announce monthly virtual book club gatherings featuring one of our favorites.  On the book club wish list for this year are a number of our favorites including Start with Why by Simon Sinek and The One Thing by Gary Keller.  We’re also looking for your suggestionsHave a favorite that you’d like to discuss with your fellow PNCWA’ersHave one that you’ve wanted to read but needed the motivation to get to itContact Mark Poling at [email protected] to share your titleWe’ll be reviewing them at our monthly Committee meetingWe’d also love to have you join us!

We’re starting with Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett and Dave EvansThe book introduces design thinking to living, learning, and succeeding in our work livesThe concept is thinking like a designerWhat exactly does that mean?

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Leadership Book Club Coming

The Leadership Development Committee is excited to announce a book club discussion series coming in January 2023. We’re starting with Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. The book introduces design thinking to living, learning, and succeeding in our work lives. The concept is thinking like a designer. What exactly does that mean?

Design thinking includes:

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Workplace Well-Being Survey Results: Leadership Development Committee

Who doesn’t want a good sense of well-being? In life, most everyone does, which necessarily means feeling good at work too. Yet, according to a recent national survey, most employees say their workplace well-being has worsened in the last year. Therefore, when the Leadership Development Committee saw this, they wanted to find out if it was true for us in PNCWA as well.

A survey probing this question was sent out in July to all PNCWA members. Unfortunately, the responses indicate we are not too different than the national trend. Answers to the questions asked are summarized below, followed by some insights on how to improve workplace well-being, gained from reviewing narrative comments that were included in the survey responses.

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Leadership Development Committee Member Survey on Workplace Well-Being

Leadership Development Committee solicits member survey for feedback on Workplace Wellbeing. Please participate here!

Leadership Corner: Introduction to Design Thinking

Greetings from the Leadership Development Committee! For those of you who are not familiar with the Committee’s work, we seek to develop leaders for the Association, our organizations, and our community. We hold workshops on leadership throughout the year. We also encourage each other through sharing articles, podcasts, blogs, and books on leadership. One book that I really like was introduced to me by our friends at Rogue Water at one of their Catalyst events. Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans introduces design thinking to live, learn, and succeed in our work lives. The concept is thinking like a designer. What exactly does that mean?

Design thinking includes:

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The PNCWA Nominating Committee is currently accepting nominations for the following positions beginning in September 2023:

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Leadership Corner: Gallup CliftonStrengths Workshop

One key to success is to fully understand how to apply your greatest talents and strengths in your everyday life. A person’s talents – those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that come naturally – are the source of your true potential and power.

Please join us for an energetic and highly interactive Gallup CliftonStrengths workshop where you will have an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of your talents and how to use them in your everyday life.  As part of your registration, you will receive a CliftonStrengths assessment code and complete the assessment prior to the workshop. We will explore how to develop talents into strengths and uncover how to aim your talents at career goals. Your participation in activities, discussion, and discovery, as well as listening to our panelists discuss how their Strengths have shaped their career experiences, will prepare you to create your own Strengths-based development plan.

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EPA Water Workforce Initiative

Currently, water utilities face challenges in recruiting, training, and retaining employees — exacerbated by the fact that roughly one-third of the water sector workforce is eligible to retire in the next 10 years. Additionally, as the technologies used become more advanced, there is a growing need to train and employ water protection specialists with specialized technical skills. “America’s Water Sector Workforce Initiative” reflects a commitment by EPA and their federal partners to work with all water sector stakeholders to ensure that the workforce is strong, diverse, and resilient, and attracts talented individuals from many different backgrounds. This initiative serves as a catalyst for developing a robust, highly skilled, and sustainable water workforce for the 21st century. Check out the resources EPA has available for the water sector.

Leadership Committee Update


The leadership committee will be hosting open discussions of relevant and interesting leadership-related ideas each quarter. These sessions, which will be held virtually via Teams, are open to any PNCWA member. The topic and date for each quarter session will be announced in the PNCWA Digest. If you are interested in joining any of the sessions, please contact Ana Arango at [email protected].

First Session:
Join us on February 14, 2022 for an open discussion on Margaret Heffernan’s TED Talk, “Dare to Disagree.”

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WLI Change Leadership Series

As part of their final project, the Water Leadership Institute (WLI) 2021 cohort has developed a YouTube series focusing on different aspects of Change Leadership in the water sector, where each group focused on a single area of excellence. Presented in the style of a TED-Talk, each group created two videos expanding on each of the nine topics.

Join the WLI groups during the roundtable discussions on Nov. 3, 8, and 10 to delve into the topics further. Click here to sign up.

Leadership Corner Aug 2021

The Leadership Development Committee is composed of life-long learners. We’d like to share the following resources recommended by our committee members.

A behavioral economist explains how your calendar is messing up your priorities
From Amy Dammarell: I came across this video that rings so true to me. Especially now, when I strive to maintain connections with others and what used to be incidental office conversations are now scheduled in. I appreciated this short video that has a few reminders of how deceptive the calendar can be and how to adjust accordingly.

What Daydreaming Does to Your Mind
From Karen DeBaker: You think you’re productive by staying busy—and stressed. Imagine your productivity increasing if you scheduled time to relax and simply succumb to boredom.

Leadership Corner Oct 2020

Leadership Committee member, Ana Arango, received this link of quotes from a friend and felt compelled to share with the group. This link contains some really interesting leadership quotes from renowned women leaders. She hopes that they provide inspiration for your next adventures.

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Leadership Corner Sept 2020

Grit and Bear It: A Leader’s Ability to Weather the Unexpected

By Karen DeBaker

In the past few months, we’ve heard countless stories of heroes who have reached beyond their normal routine to support others in order to navigate a “new normal” way of life. As my 12-year-old starts 7th grade as a digital apprentice, I’m reminded of the heroes of the academic community and their role in nurturing our future leaders and water professionals. Like us, teachers quickly honed their abilities to adapt and pivot to online coaching, while adhering to a tome of strict achievement standards and exemplifying true grit.

I was inspired by a newsletter article I received from Mt. Tabor Middle School principal Tonya Arnold and her recommended leadership resource:
“I have watched my own three children this week reengage with school. And when I asked them how their week had gone so far last night over dinner, I was shocked and elated to hear that their first days back were positive. They were happy to see their teachers and their friends. There was joy in their voices and smiles on their faces. And even when the technology was unfamiliar, they persevered. They asked for help, they didn't give up. And it made me exceptionally thankful.”

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Dare to Disagree

Leadership Corner

I am, generally speaking, a HUGE fan of Ted Talks. I browse topics regularly, and just this past weekend, I watched one with my 12-year-old while we were baking in the kitchen. There is one talk, which I have come back to repeatedly: Margaret Heffernan’s “Dare to Disagree.” She emphasizes that allowing ourselves to be challenged (in our work or paradigms) is not good enough. We should willingly seek out conflict and ask for input from those with other points of view. That conflict should be viewed not as something to be avoided- but as a mechanism to do our best collective thinking.   

On projects, I’ve worked to incorporate this approach: Asking questions like: “Before we discount this option- can anyone make a case for why it should still be on the table? Or, X is one of our fundamental assumptions, how confident are we that this assumption will hold?” are good ways to welcome input. I’ve also found verbalizing the team expectation of respectful discourse sets the tone for maximizing diverse perspectives. 

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The Expert in Sheep's Clothing

Leadership Corner

Now that I’m in the mid-life of my career, I’ve struggled with the following questions lately: Do I want to “move up” in my current job? If so, do I need to go back to school? How much value can I place on hard-earned, practical experience? Do I need to learn a new skill to stay competitive, secure, AND have a job that I love?

I regularly listen to podcasts and devour articles and books on how to better my personal and professional life. I truly enjoy learning and self-improvement. Last year, I came across the book The Expertise Economy: How the Smartest Companies Use Learning to Engage, Compete, and Succeed by Kelly Palmer and David Blake. The authors examine the very culture of learning: what it is, how it’s conducted, and what it means for tomorrow’s workforce. Most importantly, it helps business leaders place value on the well-rounded employee−one who is agile, adaptable, a problem-solver, curious, and has emotional intelligence. It’s not all about the college degree and credentials. Fellow author and business entrepreneur Seth Godin complements Palmer and Blake’s approach. He says the most important skills we can teach our kids are how to lead and how to solve interesting problems. 

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Leadership Corner March 2020

This month's book recommendation comes from Leadership Committee Member, Pamela Randolph, Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager at the City of Edmonds, WA.

While there are many books on leadership and the personal qualities of leaders, it is inspiring to find a book that focuses introspectively in a manner that creates a personal curiosity and a sense of what I bring to the table.  I recommend the book “Leadership and Self Deception – Getting out of the Box” by the Arbinger Institute to anyone striving for continuous improvement in his or her personal and professional life.  

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Leadership Corner Jan/Feb 2020

As someone who has been part of hiring decisions, I’ve often heard the hiring rationale that the candidate “would be a good fit with our culture.”  As someone who values a culture of teamwork, empowerment, and growth, I used to take that at face value. Find someone highly qualified who will fit right into our group- great!

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2020 Leadership Development Book Recommendations

The Leadership Development Committee is excited to announce its top recommended books for 2020. A few of the picks include: “The Power of Positive Thinking,” “Start with Why,” and “The Fearless Organization.” This list was carefully compiled by committee members. Check out the full list here.

Leadership Corner December 2019

Do you love leadership resources but don't have the time to do the research to find the great ones? No problem! The PNCWA Leadership Committee has you covered. Each month the committee members will curate their top leadership resources including a short summary blurb in the Leadership Corner found in the monthly digest. We're getting the Corner kicked off with an entry from Mark Poling of Clean Water Services. Keep reading to check it out. Not receiving the monthly digest? Sign up here.

Creating Psychological Safety at Work. Do you feel safe at work? Not physically safe, but psychologically safe—safe to express your thoughts and ideas. To voice a difference of opinion or point out something that is wrong? I bet circumstances immediately pop into your mind; I know they do for me. I was once so frustrated by not being able to express my strong disagreement with a group of coworkers that I considered leaving the company.  A wise friend asked me, “What if the worst thing happened and you were fired? Do you really want to work for a company where you can’t express your thoughts and ideas?” The answer for me was no. What led to my feeling insecure and afraid in the first place? How do we, as leaders, create a workplace that is free of fear? Without dissenting thoughts and ideas, is it possible to achieve the best in our teams and organizations?  How do we create psychological safety for everyone? In this compelling TedTalk, Amy Edmondson describes years of research on effective ways for leaders to cultivate psychological safety. Tell us about your workplace: what have you done to enable colleagues and employees to say what they really think?