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Notes from the Field

Leadership Reflections



"Working on yourself is the last thing leaders take time for. But, it should be the first thing because of the ripple effect great leadership has on an organization.”
 —Kelly Collison, Executive Director of Magnified Giving

Ripple Effect of Great Leadership
It never fails to amaze me when nonprofit leaders come together how they generate such a great collaborative spirit. And, again, a recent Masters Give Back offering of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop I facilitated for a group of diverse nonprofits in the Cincinnati area left me equally amazed.

Our two-day program, The Gift of Leadership, was hosted by Magnified Giving whose unique concept is to teach children and youth how to give back through Camp Give. And while each organization represented was unique in its area of service, these individual participants were bound by a shared desire to achieve more and do more for the communities they serve. Leaders from 13 different agencies, with different community strategies, were brought together through The Leadership Council for Non-Profits with one common goal: to become better leaders.

With a thirst to learn The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, as well as to learn from each other, this highly engaged and energetic group came from such organizations as Crayons to Computers that provides school supplies to both teachers and students; Music Resource Center that gives youth an opportunity to discover the joy of creating music; and Council on Aging that provides much-needed services to community seniors. Other organizations represented included the Cincinnati Association for the Blind, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, Girl Scouts, St. Vincent De Paul, Literacy Network, YWCA, Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, Jewish Family Services, and Knowledge Works.

Capturing the essence of what this unique opportunity means to members of our nonprofit community, Jenny Berg, Executive Director of The Leadership Council, said:

“The work of our nonprofit leaders is critical to advancing the community. They deal with challenging situations, life-changing opportunities, limited resources, and high expectations from donors and funders. Daily purpose. Daily stress. Time to themselves to think about the culture they are developing in the organization, the staff they are developing, or their own professional and personal growth is a luxury.

The Gift of Leadership program, thanks to Wiley and Valarie Willis Consulting, has allowed our nonprofit leaders a chance to step away—for two whole days—to learn about themselves through the LPI®, to learn from other nonprofit leaders in their groups, and to focus on how they can invest in themselves as leaders.”

As a result of so many nonprofit leaders having now experienced The Leadership Challenge, this ripple effect of great leadership can be seen throughout our community today. I see it when I walk into their offices, The Five Practices written on their white boards. I hear it in their comments to each other, Encouraging the Heart. I hear it in meetings as they Challenge the Process. I see it everywhere as they Model the Way. They have learned to Enable Others to Act—even if it means “failure” at times, which they realize is necessary for growth. And they Inspire a Shared Vision in ways that they feel it, their staff feels it, and their clients are recipients of it.

The opportunity to participate in The Gift of Leadership has truly been a way to advance our entire nonprofit community in Cincinnati. We are all grateful for the support of Wiley in giving these leaders the chance to grow in their leadership capabilities through the power of The Leadership Challenge.

Valarie Willis, one of the original Certified Masters of The Leadership Challenge® and the LPI®, is principal of Valarie Willis Consulting, in Loveland, OH where she focuses on strategic management consulting. An accomplished speaker, facilitator, consultant, and executive coach who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and small businesses, associations and nonprofits, Valarie can be reached at val@valariewillisconsulting.com.

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