Investing in Our Emerging Leaders

Last week I had the opportunity to facilitate two workshops for the Indiana Association of Rehabilitation Facilities’s (INARF) Leadership Academy. In 2018, INARF launched its Leadership Academy to better cultivate and develop emerging leaders in the field. This year-long program invests in employees who have demonstrated a commitment to serving individuals with disabilities who have a strong desire to achieve greater levels of responsibility within the industry. 

INARF’s Leadership Curriculum

I really like the way INARF has structured their year-long leadership academy. First off, they make each year’s leadership class intimate in size, approximately 20 individuals. They meet quarterly in two day chunks and the curriculum covers topics that are essential for leaders in the industry to know. Topics include: team development, adaptive leadership, time management, multi-organizational management strategies,, measuring mission impact, marketing, crisis communications, employment law, public policy, governance, and finance. For each three-hour session, they bring in an expert facilitator that presents the material and then provides opportunities for the group to apply those skills. INARF deserves many kudos for understanding the need to provide professional development for emerging leaders. 

Group work: Determining what metrics to measure mission impact

My part in helping to develop these leaders is small. I was brought in for the day to present two sessions, “Meaningful and Measured: Finding the Right Metrics for Philanthropic Success” and “Make Music Not Noise: Use Purpose-Driven Marketing Strategies to Maximize Mission Impact.” For the most part, the people in the room work solely in programmatic areas; they were newbies when it came to cultivating philanthropy and marketing and communications. I was pretty sure they were going to be uninterested in these workshops because it didn’t currently relate to them. 

Discussing Giving USA’s data during Meaningful and Measured

Happily, all twenty of the members of INARF’s Leadership Academy were very engaged in both workshops. They truly were individuals with a passion for the industry and a desire to lead. Individuals happily participated in our discussions and contributed during the small breakout sessions. It was an absolute delight to work with these individuals as they identified and described their top five marketing personas and then mapped out the client journeys. And it was heartwarming to see how they completely bought into the idea that everyone within the organization has a role in cultivating a culture of philanthropy. 

Emerging Leaders Want to Grow

INARF’s Leadership Academy demonstrates that not-for-profit’s emerging leaders are hungry to learn more. They want to have the opportunity to develop professionally so that they can take on more responsibility. It’s our job to make sure they have the skill-set to succeed. 

We all need to be like INARF and bridge the leadership gaps by building new skills, rather than send leaders to a single workshop, where the duration is too short to have long-term impact on filling the professional gaps. Providing emerging leaders with a program such as INARF’s Leadership Academy is quite beneficial. If such a program is not available, then organizations should consider providing professional coaching. Professional coaching can help address an individual’s long-term professional deficits, while developing the next generation of not-for-profit leaders.

Top 10 Reasons NPOs Should Retain a Professional Coach:

  1. Bring renewed energy in fulfilling the mission
  2. Set the stage for a happier environment
  3. Improve productivity
  4. Develop emerging leaders within the organization
  5. Retain valued team members
  6. Increase employee motivation
  7. Provide accountability
  8. Access a knowledgeable resource
  9. Reduce organizational risk
  10. Learn new skills, while refining existing skills 

There are two types of coaching options to consider: one-on-one sessions, or group sessions. When executed correctly, coaching provides a valuable opportunity for leaders to gain fresh insights and experiment with new ways of thinking and acting that will take them to the next level of performance.

Individualized Coaching

Individualized coaching should be customized to the needs, challenges, and goals of the individual. Through an authentic and trusting coaching relationship, emerging leaders gain awareness of their strengths and opportunities for growth. Individuals will develop new strategies, outlooks, and skills to tackle challenges. 

Group Coaching

Group coaching brings a group of individuals with a shared purpose together to meet regularly to provide suggestions, insight, and support to each other. It is an intimate conversation space, focused on goal-setting, deepening awareness around key issues, taking action, and accountability.

What are You Doing to Cultivate Your Emerging Leaders?

Does your organization have individuals who are committed to your mission? Are these individuals hungry to take on more responsibility? Help them develop their leadership skills and provide them with the necessary professional development to help them succeed. Either look into a leadership program in your area, or retain a professional coach. By investing in your emerging leaders, you will ensure the long-lasting sustainability of your organization. 

#NFPgit #CTCinsights

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