When a Leader Gets Better, Everybody Wins
October 2022 · Forward in Hope, Ministry News
Leadership development is important for the success of any organization, and at Saint Francis we believe that when a leader gets better, everybody wins. So, in the quest for excellence, we have built our own leader development program. The Saint Francis Ministries Leadership Center (SFMLC) was created to build solid leaders who function confidently and competently in an unpredictable world.
“Every Saint Francis employee is a leader in some capacity, either formal or informal,” says Sheryl Wohler, SFMLC facilitator. “That’s why we’re committed to developing leaders dedicated to providing the most innovative, effective, and compassionate care to those we serve.”
The Leadership Center designed three academies to develop leaders, with the Supervisor’s Academy and the Director’s Academy currently in operation. The Regional Vice President/Executive Director’s Academy is still under development, but we expect to implement it sometime during the first quarter of calendar year 2023. Each of the academies focuses on the skills necessary for the appropriate leadership level.
Our Supervisor’s Academy is designed to develop lower-level leaders responsible for guiding individual employees. During the three-day course, participants learn from leaders across the organization who explain their areas of responsibility and provide an open environment for questions. The format of the training allows for open discussion within the group to facilitate learning and to help foster a connection amongst the participants. Our hope is that this connection will extend beyond the three days of training.
The course also includes hands-on training to aid in successful implementation of skills, evaluation of real-world problems facing supervisors, and an opportunity to develop and implement a plan that addresses those problems when supervisors return to their daily work. The Supervisor’s Academy also incorporates a plan for follow-up to encourage continued growth once the training has ended and to enhance the support and connection built during the three days the group was together.
The Director’s Academy provides upper-level leader development, with specific training about how to lead other leaders. Leaders encounter a particular set of challenges when leading other leaders, so these skills must be developed to be successful. When a director sets a course for their areas of responsibility, proper communication of that course to employees is essential to ensure a coordinated effort. Our goal for the Director’s Academy is to prepare leaders who understand and feel confident dealing with the rigors of independent decision-making.
Regional Vice Presidents/Executive Directors
Regional Vice Presidents (RVP) and Executive Directors (ED) will have an opportunity to enhance their relationship-building skills since successful leadership ultimately depends upon the cultivation of healthy, positive relationships both within and without the organization.
Budgeting will be another focus of the RVP/ED Academy. Understanding how to develop and monitor a budget is of the utmost importance in a non-profit organization. And, because positive change requires a leader with a vision, the academy will empower RVPs and EDs to make their vision a reality, even as they try to creatively identify resourcing needs in a resource-limited environment.
Since March, 104 employees have participated in the Leadership Center, and it’s proving an effective tool in developing strong leaders to guide Saint Francis in our mission to provide healing and hope to those we serve. All three academies are the result of a dedicated group of Saint Francis employees who want to see our organization remain a leader of excellence in child welfare work at all levels.
by Raymond Nunweiler, Chief Support Officer