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Staff Leadership Development:

In initiating a leadership development program for LCCS, the only premise of the agency director was that there existed a body of knowledge about leadership and a set of primary agency values to which staff members should be exposed. There was not a particular model of leadership development training that was being advocated. In fact, the challenge was to propose a program based on PSI staff members’ own knowledge and experience with leadership development to be delivered in a child protection organization.

What was different about this leadership development effort was that it was being built into an overall reengineering effort of the agency. Often, leadership programs are implemented as some type of stand-alone program with the thinking that teaching the staff members leadership skills will solve all issues. When this proves not to be the case, the program is deemed a failure. In the case of LCCS, the leadership development program was one component of several that were being implemented to bring about change in the organization. The key to success of the program was that it fit into the larger purpose of creating an agency that was steeped in excellence in all aspects of its operations. If the agency was to be a leader in changing children’s lives for the better, then staff members would themselves have to adopt the appropriate value set and possess leadership skills that would contribute to excellence. Insuring child safety depends on managers, supervisors, social workers, case aides, and other support staff who model agency values and leadership excellence every day.

Because of the critical need for collaboration across the agency, the program was named the Collaborative Leaders Program (CLP). The following section gives the specific design of CLP; however, four points need to be considered before embarking on a leadership development program:

  1. It is important to consider this a “model” of a leadership development program–one that can be shaped and suited to your particular agency. One size may not exactly fit all agencies.
  2. To shape this program to fit your agency, engage in a dialogue with staff members, having them reflect on what they believe constitutes great leadership and what their greatest needs are for leading the agency in excellence. Talk about what their expectations are for the program.
  3. Have the program run by an outside facilitator, especially in the start-up phases. An outside educational facilitator will bring neutrality (and respect) to the program, especially in situations where tension may exist between different areas of the organization.
  4. While it is critical to have an outside, “neutral” facilitator, it is also critical to have a “project champion” inside the agency who can provide the day-to-day contact and feedback for the educational facilitator. This person might be the human resources director or the director of quality assurance.

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