In Giving Is Where We Find Our Greatest Rewards

In Giving Is Where We Find Our Greatest Rewards

Notes from the Field

Every session of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop has its very own, unique, and often fascinating elements. The most important, of course, being the people who attend and participate. Their energy, focus, expectations, and engagement create the ‘life’ of the experience.

One might think there would be a difference between leaders from for-profit and non-profit organizations, as participants in the workshop. And to some degree, this can be true. At the beginning of any given workshop, for example, as facilitators we see some differences in expressed expectations, outcomes, and reasons for participating. But in the end there is very little difference, if any at all, among the different participants. In fact, we more often find that the spirit of learning, sharing, and engaging with others in The Leadership Challenge® experience supersedes any pre-determined ideas and expectation—and is not defined by the kind of organizations represented in the room, but rather by the unique characteristics and engagement of each individual in the room.

One of the many profound elements of The Leadership Challenge is that its tenets of leadership are timeless and without boundaries. The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model and the 30 behaviors of the LPI® impact each person in a way that is most aligned with their own needs, values, dreams, and leadership potential—whether they realize it at first or not. And that was made especially clear when Certified Master Renee Harness and I had the honor and privilege of delivering a Masters Give Back offering of The Leadership Challenge Workshop in Indianapolis recently.

Our 15 workshop participants—all from various non-profit organizations—included three leaders from Purchased, an organization working with victims of human-trafficking; founder and community outreach coordinator from the Center for Victim and Human Rights; president of the Indiana Swim Club; board members from the Muslim Community Center of Louisville; plus others who represented a university, a community college, and a library. While the group was certainly diverse, all the participants were connected by their ‘whys’—in both their professional and personal lives.

From the opening of the workshop, Renee and I both sensed a deep commitment and engagement from each of the participants. And this engagement only continued to grow as time went on, creating an even greater sense of alignment and yet challenge within the group. The breakouts, discussions, and activities brought a number of ‘aha’ moments:
  • Clarity around values. Understanding that we do not have separate personal and professional values. We simply have values that need to be clearly defined and aligned to our purpose and actions. The values cards, as always, provided an opportunity to help leaders think about what is important in a way and in a place that is different from how most approach the subject (if they approach it all). We found this to be a particularly moving experience of awareness for the group. 

  • The importance of vision, creating a clear, vivid, and compelling vision of the future and what we are working toward. This was an especially significant and compelling breakout activity for the female leaders from Purchased. They talked at length about what they do and why. And in the end they realized how important a vision was—not only to each of them as individuals but to the people they serve. The result was a vision message that brought the entire group to tears, and brought clarity to the organization. A huge win for them and for all of us. 

  • Robust conversations around all of The Five Practices, especially Challenge the Process and Encourage the Heart. During a discussion of Challenge the Process, for example, several questions were posed and experiences shared as the group explored the issue of handling challenge in a positive, authentic leadership way. Again, awareness and understanding grew exponentially among the group as the importance of and alignment to values and vision was applied to their challenges. 

  • Our impact on others—LPI item #16. After deep discussions of issues around powerful/powerless, sharing of personal experiences, and exploring how we impact others without even knowing it at times, the awareness and impact was palpable. The group was in unison in understanding how critical it is to be aware and to ask how we impact others. This was a game changer for several, if not all, of the participants. 
I had the privilege of working closely with each of the three participants from Purchased during the workshop and then following up with one-to-one coaching. As always, it amazed me to see the evolution of thought and behavior as we worked through their LPI feedback and the insights they gained from their workshop experiences. Although each leader had her individual learning experience, they also came closer together as a work-team and as colleagues. They aligned with each other on values, their vision, why they do what they do, and how to do it better. They walked away with a new perspective and with a tangible plan to make changes in some of their processes, thinking, and behaviors to have an even bigger impact within their organization and in serving their clients.

Throughout the workshop, the combination of The Five Practices and the solid tenets of The Leadership Challenge made a profound impact on each individual in the way he/she needed it most. And it wasn’t only the participants who gained tremendous benefit from the experience.

The opportunity to deliver a Masters Give Back program is as much a gift to me—as I’m sure it is to my fellow facilitators—as it is to our workshop participants. To witness how the power of this body of work impacts all of our lives in such a profound way is unforgettable, enriching, and inspiring—every time.


Roxanne Kaufman Elliott,
a Certified Master-in-Training of The Leadership Challenge®, is president and CEO of ProLaureate Ltd. working extensively with the Greater Cleveland YWCA as facilitator, coach, and mentor of The Leadership Challenge in the Executive Women’s Momentum program. In addition, she brings over 30 years of national and international corporate experience to a wide range of clients, from privately-held business to corporations in manufacturing, healthcare, insurance, accounting, financial services, real estate, consumer products, and construction. She can be reached at rkaufman@prolaureate.com.

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