Poll results: What are the most essential skills for councillors?

We asked you to tell us which top three skills you believe are most essential for councillors to thrive in their roles, out of 10 options. Thank you to everyone who answered – we had 131 responses in total. Here’s what you said.


What you told us


Listening is the most essential skill for a councillor to have, according to LGIU members and followers. Nearly one in four of you judged this to be one of the most essential skills (23.7%).

Along similar lines, communications was voted the second most essential skill for a councillor to have (17.6%).

Strategic thinking was voted as the third most important skill for councillors (16.8%).

These top three most essential skills show the perceived value of supporting and learning from others in the council and community, expressing thoughts and policy clearly, and prioritising long-term thinking.

Collaboration and scrutiny were voted as the fourth and fifth most essential skills for councillors, followed by time management skills.

Some participants commented that the options were all essential skills for councillors to have!

Negotiation and public speaking were ranked as equal seventh most important skills, followed by chairing and finally mediation.

We also gave participants the option to add in other essential skills. Caring and making time to respond to enquiries from all residents were suggested as key skills.


LGIU training to develop essential skills


The LGIU team has put together an extensive range of training covering essential skills for councillors and officers across local government. Here is a small taster of what we offer and be sure to check out our full resources hub for councillors.


Being an effective councillor – interpersonal skills

This modular programme has been developed for councillors who want to develop more advanced interpersonal skills to enable them to gain more positive outcomes when working with people. Find out more and sign up here.

Understanding strategic thinking

This online workshop is ideal for councillors, managers or specialists who have a strategic role or who are looking to develop a better understanding and skills in the area of longer-term planning and strategy.
Find out more and sign up here.

An introduction to overview and scrutiny for elected members

This online session is aimed at elected members who are new to overview and scrutiny and need to find their feet as soon as possible.
Find out more and sign up here.