The mission of the Great Lakes Leadership Academy (GLLA) is “To promote positive change, economic vitality and resource conservation, and to enhance the quality of life in Michigan by encouraging leadership for the common good.” The GLLA Emerging Leader Program (ELP) pursues this mission through a series of three, four-day sessions during a calendar year. Each session provides participants the opportunity to probe three interrelated questions: Who am I? Who are we? What is the Common Good? Each question is explored in increasing depth and complexity over the three sessions.
The specific progression of curriculum material on the key topics is as follows:
Who am I? (Developing myself as a leader)
- Session 1 focuses on understanding one’s underlying personal characteristics. It alerts participants to different behavioral and communication styles. It also provides participants the opportunity to identify their personal value systems and build an understanding of our identities and memberships in target and non-target groups.
- Session 2 again addresses self-awareness by offering additional insights into developing yourself as a leader. Participants are taught the concept of emotional development and encouraged to identify, accept, and pursue growth edges—skills and attributes that will advance their leadership potential.
- Session 3 offers participants the opportunity to examine their personal attitudes toward some of the challenges of leadership. A key concept is the subjectivity of values systems and how that affects collective decision-making. Participants learn the differences in how individuals perceive and respond to risk. The session also delves into the concept of achieving a life balance as one leads.
Who am I with Others? (Cultivating relationships)
- Session 1 will address sensitivity to and appreciation for differences among individuals. A key ancillary benefit of this learning is the significance of vulnerability and openness in working with others. This session teaches specific ways of working with different personal styles. As a general benefit of group interaction, participants gain practice in establishing new relationships. ELP includes a mentoring aspect—in which prior ELP graduates mentor current participants—which also offers the opportunity to learn and practice establishing new successful relationships with others. We will explore issues of power, oppression, privilege and change at the personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels and create a common language related to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Session 2 teaches practical leadership skills in working with others to address challenges. These include making group decisions, reacting to and driving change, managing conflict, and holding oneself and others accountable.
- Session 3 takes a step back to look at working with others from a societal perspective. It explores the concept of how we as a society make choices. Specifically, it discusses the role of the sciences and individual and group preferences in making policy choices.
Who are we? (Working collectively)
- Session 1 introduces the basic concepts of group interaction. It begins with discussion of group structures, the benefits of joint action and the nature of collaboration. Participants are taught to distinguish between the subject of group discussion and the procedures being used in that discussion with sensitivity to how group members interact. This session also teaches different decision-making models and the types of situations in which they are appropriate.
- Session 2 contains three aspects of being successful in a group. First it teaches basic facilitation tools. Second, it offers a reflective component on group interaction. Participants are assigned a group project between Sessions 1 and 2. Session 2 debriefs this project experience from the perspective of group interaction. Finally, this session also explores the broader concepts of organizational norms and culture.
- Session 3 provides advanced group management skills. These include, practical problems solving techniques, how to frame issues for decision-making, the nature of interest-based negotiation, systems and strategic thinking, and the nature of innovation.
The Common Good
- Session 1 invites participants to begin to stretch their thinking about the notion of a “common good”. A presentation by experienced leaders provides real world examples of what is involved in leadership for the common good. The ensuing group discussion helps participants relate to the concept and begins to raise significant questions about what the common good entails. These questions will help guide each participant’s entire experience in the ELP.
- Session 2 includes a reflective component on the Common Good. Through the debrief of the group project carried out between Sessions 1 and 2, participants offer and discuss thoughts and feelings about working for the common good.
- Session 3 is designed to further charge and inspire participants to work for the common good. Experienced leaders will again provide inspirational insights into working for the common good. The group will discuss whether an agreed-upon positive future can be generally described and, if so, what it looks like. Finally, participants discuss the role and responsibility of each individual in shaping a positive future.