Progress on a Vision

Progress on a Vision

The Masters Give Back initiative began as a gift of The Leadership Challenge® and our friends at Wiley in 2013. Over the years, it has turned into a working vision of an ideal model of how non-profit agencies develop their leaders and discover ways to substantially enhance the services they provide to those in need in their community. 

For the third consecutive year, International Leadership Associates (ILA) has been privileged to experience for ourselves how this program has touched the Cincinnati non-profit community and how much leadership development continues to happen. As in the past, our residential The Gift of Leadership Program (this year held March 16–18) included a powerful outside learning component at Camp Joy. A longtime partner of ILA, Camp Joy once again provided the venue, along with great food, a magical fire pit, and some of the best outdoor challenge course activities in the business. Facilitating The Leadership Challenge ® Workshop for our group of 20 aspiring leaders from area nonprofits was a privilege. And this year we were fortunate to be joined by Brent Carter of Fifth Third Bank who is soon to become one of the newest Certified Masters to join The Leadership Challenge community. 

Photo Caption: The Leadership Challenge® 2015 program welcomed 20 enthusiastic participants representing a number of human services organizations in the greater Cincinnati area. [Photo credit: Kevin Hackman, Camp Joy]

Unique Strategy
As part of our overall effort to support the development of non-profit leaders throughout the Cincinnati community, plans are already in place for a second Leadership Challenge program in the fall, offered by Certified Master Valarie Willis. In addition, Valarie and I have partnered with our area’s  Leadership Council of Human Services Executives and a number of key local businesses to move the leadership development of our non-profit leaders far beyond the offering of a couple of programs. 
Together we have created a more comprehensive development approach called LIVE to LEAD (Leaders Inspiring Visionary Excellence). Key competencies for non-profit leaders —such as talent management and change leadership—have been identified. And an entire curriculum of programs, built upon the core principles and Practices of The Leadership Challenge, is now being offered in addition to supplementary courses that include Building Relationships, Strategic Planning and Agility, and Change Leadership. 

One of the unique aspects of LIVE to LEAD that is new this year is that the supplementary programs are
 now being offered by local businesses in the Cincinnati area. Fifth Third Bank has taken the lead, providing non-profit leaders the opportunity to take the very same top quality development opportunities that the organization provides to its own aspiring leaders. 

The first cohort of 24 non-profit leaders began the LIVE to LEAD curriculum earlier this year, and the first three sessions have been received with great excitement and very positive feedback.  Plans are already in place for enrolling future cohorts. We also have set our sights on enrolling additional companies who will follow Fifth Third Bank’s lead and open their education doors to the leaders from our area non-profits. In addition, we are in the process of inviting other companies to join The E.W. Scripps Company, which stepped up early on to provide ongoing funding of scholarships to enable more non-profit leaders to participate in this leadership development initiative. 

The Gift of Leadership process, begun only three years ago, is providing a well-deserved boost to the leadership development efforts of the Greater Cincinnati area non-profits. There is a new energy throughout the nonprofit community, and we are seeing evidence of more frequent collaboration and sharing of best practices among the agencies. The bottom line is that our vision of creating an even more well-served Cincinnati community, through stronger well-led human service agencies, is continuing to make progress at a rapid pace.
Steve Coats
, a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®, is a managing partner and co-owner of International Leadership Associates, a leadership development education and consulting firm. For 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  


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