Launching a Community Leadership Program
A few basic items are essential when considering the creation of a leadership series or process.
April 10, 2017 - Author: Bonnie Wichtner-Zoia, Michigan State University Extension
The most successful leadership development initiatives are custom designed to fit the unique combination of needs, resources and desired goals of their target communities.
First, examine what is going on in the community.
Has a leadership development need or issue been identified?
- Have government officials, current leaders, interest groups or other stakeholders indicated a need for leadership development?
- Would a leadership development process assist the community with a current issue?
- Has leadership development been named as a need on a survey, other evaluation tool or in some other manner?
Will the community support a leadership development initiative?
- Are there community members who will assist the program as advisors, sponsors or collaborators?
- What type of resources might be available?
- Are there participants willing to pay to attend a leadership development program?
- Is there likely to be strong community support for such an initiative?
Who has the skills, time and desire necessary to organize a leadership development initiative?
- Is there someone or a few people who are willing to coordinate this initiative?
- Has consideration been given to the time it will take to organize, follow-up and evaluate such an effort?
- Is there an organization willing to serve as the fiduciary?
- Are there additional resource persons to assist with the effort?
Forming a Planning Committee
If a need has been identified and the timing seems appropriate for a leadership initiative, then a planning or steering committee should be established.
A broad-based, diverse oversight committee is one of the most effective ways to encourage community involvement in a leadership initiative. The committee should strongly support the need for a leadership program, be willing to contribute their unique skills and/or resources, represent diverse sectors of the community and be willing to commit the time and effort needed to develop the initiative.
- Review and assess community readiness.
- Determine the goal and objectives of the initiative; should this be a leadership series or a leadership process based on an identified issue?
- Identify areas of emphasis related to the goals and objectives.
- Establish an intended target audience.
- Investigate other leadership programs successes and challenges.
- Make basic decisions about when and how to begin.
- Develop a task timeline.
Community leadership initiatives can provide a forum for bringing together people who represent a broad array of backgrounds, experiences and interests, thus helping to alleviate barriers and lesson divisions. Leadership development programs increase the opportunities for networking and collaboration. Through participation in such a program, people can become knowledgeable about and involved in their communities. The cumulative effect is to provide a powerful uniting force in the community.