Giving Back to Cincinnati Nonprofits

Giving Back to Cincinnati Nonprofits

Notes from the Field

“It was both humbling and exciting to learn more about myself as a leader and consider new possibilities for growth within my organization and role. Being aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a leader has challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and push myself into the learning zone.”

Celebrating the delivery of our fifth consecutive Masters Give Back offering of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, Certified Master Valarie Willis and I have seen some remarkable things happen within our nonprofit community. We continue to learn from all the hard-working leaders who give of their time and talent to participate with us and who also continue to inspire us to keep giving back. And our most recent experience was no exception.

This year’s program was again held at Camp Joy, our experiential learning venue just north of Cincinnati. It was a two-and-a-half day residential experience that included challenging activities, wonderful networking around an evening campfire, and perfect weather. Many found special value in the formal debriefings we held at the end of each day, designed to help our participants connect the lessons learned during that day’s session to the daily challenges they face on their jobs. They also expressed a great deal of gratitude for the opportunity to network with and learn from other agency leaders facing similar and often daunting challenges of nonprofit work. As one participant described it, “This program not only connected me with nonprofit peers who are going through similar challenges, but it provided me with a realistic roadmap to becoming a stronger leader. The Five Practices are easy to understand and truly useful, and the lessons learned resonated with me because they were real and practical—unlike other corporate training programs I’ve been through.”

Twenty-three participants joined us from a diverse range of nonprofit agencies that serve orphans, those searching for jobs, those who desperately need a place to live, and those young girls aspiring to be our next generation of leaders (i.e., Girl Scouts). They were fully engaged and stepped up to the task of becoming better models of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®.


As part of the group’s final experiential activity, we asked each person to declare something they would like to leave behind when they left the program and were back on the job or returning to their personal lives—an old behavior or mindset. We also asked them to name something new that they were committed to achieving as they moved toward becoming a better leader. It was gratifying to hear so many of our participants reference specifics from their LPI® feedback or aspirations from their work on vision creation as the foundations for the changes they wanted to make. They left the experience light on sleep, but deep in the commitment to become better.

About one month after our programs, I routinely reach out to participants to gauge the impact the program had on people. And again, both Valerie and I continue to find inspiration in responses such as this one, from a leader who participated in one of our programs three years ago:

“My department's annual budget results increased 1,175% (from $88K to $1.12M) and 75% of the time we’ve exceeded all of our KPIs. The poorly-performing programs I inherited were $300K in the red; now they are $10K in the black. The fact that I attended The Leadership Challenge Workshop at Camp Joy was certainly a key reason for these successes. Neither the work nor the people changed. I changed. I started leading and that was the biggest factor.”

Thank you to everyone at Wiley who continues to support the Masters Give Back program. Your support has been instrumental in helping us create a living leadership development process that makes a difference.


Steve Coats,
Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge, is managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For over 25 years, Steve has taught, coached, and consulted with executives and all levels of managers around the world in leadership development, team development, personal growth, change, and business strategy. Steve can be reached at stevec@i-lead.com

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