There are so many benefits to individuals who attend leadership programs, some might wonder why we should consider different approaches…if it’s not broken why fix it? After all, people who attend traditional leadership programs report increased self-confidence and new skills that they believe enable them to perform more effectively in their leadership roles, often within organizations. As times change so are our ideas about leadership. Complex problems need a new level of connection and collaboration across organizations and work on single issues.
Ten years ago the benefits of relationships developing among the participants of a leadership program were often unintended Now, leadership programs see the opportunity for leadership programs to connecting diverse individuals across their organizations, especially in programs that are recruiting participants who work in the same region or share a common focus on school readiness or the health of seniors. The peer learning and collaborations that occur among program participants often benefits their individual and collective work, their communities long after the program’s completion.
LLC recently interviewed over 30 funders with a rich history of investing in leadership development and the theme of supporting people and groups in the context of actual work was prevalent. This is an approach that tailors leadership supports to the real time needs of people engaged in working with others on issues they care most about.
This was also a strong focus of LLC’s publication on Leadership and Collective Impact. In the publication we suggest thinking strategically about who to recruit to a leadership program. A leadership program can be a container for seeding new relationships among individuals, groups and organizations who share a common concern or vision and for supporting their learning and work together. While we have explored how to bring people to a program to help build their capacity to work effectively together, we haven’t explored what it could look like to bring leadership supports to ongoing work instead.