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Leadership development in our congregations should be an extension of faith development. But our congregational leaders need more than technical training, they need a combination of skills and qualities to enable them to be both skillful and faithful. This nuanced difference in the meanings of the words “training” or even “development” could be described as “leadership formation.”
(Note: Detailed information is available in the Central East Regional Group's (CERG's) on-demand course Passing the Torch (free registration required): Creating a Leadership Development Program in Your Congregation.)
Many of the congregations who approach us about leadership development are under stress. They might have a nominating committee that is unable to fill all of the slots before the congregational annual meeting, They may have experienced a crisis because they had leaders in important roles who were not equipped to serve in that capacity during a time of conflict or change. They may have a leadership group that is burned out but no one else is ready to step in.
Sustainable leadership development cannot be reactive to these kinds of crises. Leadership Development should be an ongoing process in your congregation that includes the following practices,
Your Leadership Development Team should have several practices and strategies that enable them to identify potential leaders, especially from groups that may be at the margins (young adults, people of color). Here are a few suggestions:
In designing programming to meet the needs of today’s congregational leaders, we offer a model that identifies twelve areas where leaders and potential leaders might learn and grow. (See a visual model.) The leadership development resources on the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) website are organized using this model.
Each of the twelve areas fall into one of three categories.
Sensibilities are lenses that our leaders can develop in order to get a better "balcony view" of the situations in which they are leading and the people that they are working with. Part of developing these sensibilities is knowing that it is an ongoing process of learning, reflecting and shifting awareness. We don't think of sensibilities as competencies because these are areas where leaders will always have blind spots and deeply ingrained assumptions that keep them from seeing the whole picture by themselves.
Skills are competencies that can be developed through a combination of study and practice. These can be learned through reading, workshops, classes, webinars and "on the job."
Because we are looking at Leadership Development as a kind of faith formation, we want each leader to develop self-awareness and find ways to cultivate and improve their full, authentic selves, especially in ways that make them better leaders.
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This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
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Last updated on Thursday, May 29, 2014.
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