Leadership Resources Archive
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  Leadership Resources Archive 

"Leadership development can be thought of as an integration strategy by helping people understand how to relate to others, coordinate their efforts, build commitments, and develop extended social networks by applying self-understanding to social and organizational imperatives.” - David V. Day, The Pennsylvania State University

Leadership Development

Are you Leading Through the Crisis… or Managing the Response?
This Harvard Business Review article offers suggestions on how to lead in these challenging times.   

Are you learning to lead?

The Lead Change Group provides guidance on using past experiences to enhance your personal and professional development. Experiential Learning is a process that helps you learn to lead. This article takes you through the simple 4-step cycle to teach yourself: experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting.

Chick-Fil-A Leadercast

Chick-Fil-A Leadercast is an annual leadership development event which seeks to provide a day of relevant and practical training which will energize and inspire leaders from all different backgrounds. The event is a joint effort by GiANT Impact and Chick-fil-A. On May 10, 2013 the event will be broadcast live from Atlanta and simulcast into communities across the globe. Click here to learn how you can participate in a simulcast event.

Coaching as Leadership

This PowerPoint presentation explores models and strategies for providing leadership through coaching others toward a mutually shared vision. It addresses the importance of empowering others to solve their problems. Presenter: Kathy Harris, ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career

Concepts and Connections, focusing on Inclusive Leadership

This is a collection of leadership magazines including foremost scholarship on leadership initiatives from the last three decades. It provides frameworks, methods, and standards for leaders in education. The National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs shares leadership resources to college students to support their growth as leaders.

Five Characteristics of Purposeful Innovators

Shekinah Eliassen, an Aspen Institute Fellow for the First Movers Fellowship Program, shared five characteristics of a purposeful innovator. She claims that “leaders who define their purpose are the ones who make a lasting impact on the plane and others.” Her work sets out to find methods of boosting bold, purpose- driven innovation within companies. 

A Framework for Building Your Cross Sector Leadership Practice

Building cross-sector leadership practice? See this framework from Presidio Institute.

How do leaders lead during such uncertainty?

Smart Brief acknowledges that in a time of uncertainty it is easy to be reactive rather than proactive. This article features quotes from leaders of different organizations giving guidance on the role a leader should play when in a position of insecurity. 

How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill

Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions.” A Harvard Business Review article discusses why emotional intelligence is an important leadership skill because it requires strong self-awareness, awareness of peers and strong social skills. Emotional intelligence is crucial to education because of the heavy, emotional investment of enhancing learning potential for another person. Emotional intelligence should be considered a top leadership skill like IQ and technical skills.

How Leadership Development is Like the Olympics

Center for Creative Leadership draws parallels between Olympic training and leadership development, focusing on several strategies of integrated coaching: one-on-one follow-up calls, creating a personal development plan, and articulating desired outcomes.

How to Lead in a Time Of Crisis

There are several articles on how to lead in the time of crisis. Two to consider is from SmartBrief and Harvard EdCast.

Leadership & Large-Scale Change

The Leadership Learning Community drafted a report that describes the evaluation methodologies being used to understand the contributions of leadership development to large scale changes. The report integrates different perspectives of funders, evaluators, and practitioners to not only define leadership and leadership development, but to evaluate innovative leadership development strategies. 

Leadership Development is Not Supposed to Be FUN

According to Dan McCarthy, current leadership development fads are not shortcuts to becoming a great leader. In this article, he argues that developing leadership skills requires hard work. It must involve challenges, which probably will not be fun to overcome. Six ways to truly develop as a leader are suggested. Read the full blog.

Leadership Development Works- We Have Proof

The Center for Creative Leadership provides evidence that leadership development has a powerful and lasting impact on the biggest challenges that organizations face. They identify four competitive advantages gained through leadership development: 1. Better bottom-line financial performance, 2. Ability to attract, develop and retain talent, 3. Improved strategy execution, and 4. Increased success in navigating change. The article discusses what does and doesn’t work in order to earn those benefits.

Preparing Cross-Boundary Leaders: By Design

IEL believes that "We get the leaders for education we need by developing them.” The publication, Preparing Cross-Boundary Leaders: By Design, summarizes research-based leadership development strategies and tools and brings them to life through on-the-ground examples of how and what the strategies contribute to the development of cross-boundary leaders.

Strengthen Your Leadership Chops

The Washington Post generated a list of the books that will enhance leadership skills and include themes like motivation, team building, vulnerability, and the willingness to learn from errors.

The Best Leaders are Constant Learners

The world in which we live and work is constantly changing, and it’s important to be open to adapting and gaining knowledge in this environment. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, leadership experts Kenneth Mikkelsen and Harold Jarche explain why the best leaders are always learning and encouraging their colleagues to expand their knowledge as well. To help aspiring and seasoned leaders sustain the competitive advantage that professional development brings, the authors created a lifelong learning strategy called Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM). PKM is centered on three focus areas: seeking (finding new information), sensing (personalizing and using information), and sharing (exchanging ideas and collaborating with others).

What Should Leadership Development Look Like

Peter Dewitt’s recent column in Education Week responds to the question What Should Leadership Development Look Like, highlighting the gaps in how leaders are prepared for their role and introducing the Education Leadership Collective as a strategy to fill the gaps. 

3-step organizational assessment and change process

Community Wealth Partners suggest a 3-step organizational assessment and change process for leaders confronting a “new normal” in their organizational capacities due to unavoidable staffing changes.

Leadership in Education

Advice From an Administrator to a New Teacher

ASCD acknowledges the struggle of being a new teacher. This article provides advice that educators may not have received in an academic or training course when pursuing this career path. 

Being and Becoming an Education Leader 

What does it take to be a successful education leader? A forum hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education focused on that question and featured former district and charter school leaders discussing how leadership pipeline programs can best recruit and prepare effective leaders.

Coherence: The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems

Michael Fullan is a renowned author on educational change and systems reform. In his new book Coherence, Fullan explains the Coherence Framework, which focuses on the drivers needed to promote success. The four drivers are: focusing direction, collaborative cultures, deepening learning, and securing accountability. When executed, these four components promote growth and heighten progress in schools, districts, and various systems.

The Challenges of School Leadership

Being a school leader is a difficult and demanding job; in fact, 25 percent of principals leave their schools each year and half of new principals quit by their third year in the role. To share their challenges and help other education leaders and the public to better understand their work, Education Week collected commentary pieces from principals across the country that highlight the highs, lows, and importance of school leadership. Each piece focuses on a different topic, ranging from using technology to balance responsibilities to community building.

Cultivating a New Leadership Archetype

There are lots of school administrator stereotypes out there (remember the authoritative principal from The Breakfast Club and the nurturing Headmaster Dumbledore from Harry Potter?) but which leadership example is the best to follow for school leaders? Assistant principal Eric Saibel explores this topic in a recent Edutopia blog post, where he highlights four practices that can help to make a great school leader: embracing creativity and play, reimagining and relocating meetings, fostering a culture of celebration, and taking care of yourself.

Developing Excellent School Principals to Advance Teaching and Learning

Effective school principals are key to the success of a school, its teachers, and its students, but how can states better prepare them for their work? The Wallace Foundation recently released Developing Excellent School Principals to Advance Teaching and Learning: Considerations for State Policy, a report written by political scientist Paul Manna about what state policymakers can do to support principals and boost their effectiveness in their schools. The report offers three sets of considerations for states: adopting principal leadership standards into state law and regulation; examining policy levers that states can pull; and assessing important contextual matters for the state.

Districts Taking Charge of the Principal Pipeline

A new report by the Wallace Foundation highlights ways in which six districts are working to improve school leadership districtwide.Districts Taking Charge of the Principal Pipeline describes new measures districts are implementing as part of these efforts, such as systematic support for assistant principals; the use of performance standards to hire and evaluate principals; and the establishment of data systems to help identify principals in need of support. This report is the third in a series of studies evaluating a Wallace Foundation initiative focused on building stronger principals.

Equity Allies: How School Leaders Can Promote Equitable Educational Opportunities

Equity is often discussed in education, but what does it really look like in action? Inspired by the Excellent Educators for All initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Education in July 2014, Jessica Rigby from the University of Washington—Seattle and Lynda Tredway from IEL analyzed video footage of the daily work of 10 principals in an urban West Coast district. In a recent post on the Great Teachers and Leaders for All Learners blog (hosted by the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at AIR), Rigby and Tredway share three recommendations for infusing equity into leadership practices at the school, district, and state levels based on their analysis of the principals. Their recommendations include using explicit language about equitable outcomes in conversations and actions; communicating clear next steps for individuals involved in the equity actions; and connecting small “micro” issues to “macro” contexts, framing equity as a larger social issue. In following these recommendations, principals and other leaders can be more specific about the actions and steps needed to work toward equitable outcomes.

Everybody Supports 'Equity,' But How Do They Define It?

Do administrators and principals define equity in the same way – especially as it relates to school finance and spending? Read Education Week’s findings from their nationwide survey.

Evolve as an Educator 

In the world of education, social media connects educators and provides people with an opportunity to share, reflect, and collaborate. Brad Currie is a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Dean of Students for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. His EVOLVE model helps educators move in the right direction toward success: engage, validate, orient, launch, value and epitomize all knowledge.

From Intention to Action: Building Diverse, Inclusive Teams in Education to Deepen Impact

Students of color may make up nearly half of the total U.S. student population, but leadership in schools, districts, and other education organizations don’t reflect this diversity. In an effort to help organizations increase diversity and inclusion, Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers surveyed leaders at 44 leading education organizations across the country about their diversity practices and released the findings in their latest report, From Intention to Action: Building Diverse, Inclusive Teams in Education to Deepen Impact. The survey data shows that while 98 percent of participating organizations support diversity, only 33 percent describe diversity as a core value and 31 percent have a clear internal definition of diversity. Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers make several recommendations to organizations who are looking to increase their diversity, including customizing their vision and strategy, focusing on the recruiting and selection process, and ensuring ongoing discussion on the topic.

How to Fix a Broken School? Lead Fearlessly, Love Hard

Watch, listen, and learn as Linda Cliatt-Wayman, high school principal, passionately models leadership through her TED Talk. She shares her three principles that have helped her turn around three schools.  She claims she is known for her slogans, applicable to all roles: “If you are going to lead, LEAD.” “So what. Now what?”. “If nobody told you they loved you today, remember I do.” 

Innovative Learning for Leadership Development

We often focus on the development of adult leaders, but it is important to consider the development of our young people and future leaders to ensure leadership development begins early and continues through career and adulthood. New Directions for Student Leadership is a journal series that explores leadership development among high school and college students to help guide the creation of leadership programs for young people. In the series’ most recent issue, “Innovative Learning for Leadership Development,” the editor includes pieces that examine the intersections of learning and leadership and how what we know about learners and learning styles impacts youth leadership development. Specifically, it discusses how leadership can and should be learned; that learning and leadership development capacities are closely related; and that leadership educators can foster learning environments that help students combine their skills, knowledge, and experiences.

Lasting Impact: A Business Leader's Playbook for Supporting America's Schools

Business leaders can work with educators to raise the odds that improvement will accelerate. The most progressive business leaders have realized that the changes in PK–12 education are creating new ways for business to support education. Tapping these opportunities requires moving away from business’s traditional "checkbook philanthropy.” Beyond providing money, business leaders are partnering closely with educators and with one another to pursue three kinds of transformative actions. Read the full report.

Leaders Who Last

Strong leaders at both the school and district level are a key ingredient in ensuring student and teacher success. And while developing good leaders can be difficult, keeping them in their roles long enough to make an impact on their students and schools can be even harder. A recent article in Education Week’s Leadership360 blog digs into the importance of principal and superintendent longevity. The post looks at why leader longevity is important in schools and districts, highlighting that education leaders are needed to develop and sustain the coalitions that move schools and districts forward, coalitions within schools and districts, and partnerships with communities and other organizations, and these kinds of relationships can really only be sustained through long-term leaders.

Learning to Love the Swamp: Reshaping Education for Public Service

In this presidential address, Ellen Schall discusses how to lead in important, complex, and messy contexts that resist technical analysis. She suggests that we need to train leaders to pay attention to context, experiential opportunities, here and now, personal, behavioral, swamplike, collectively oriented, interactive aspects of organizational work and value what people bring in while also acknowledging messy contexts.

Locally Grown: Districts Produce their Own School Leadership Talent

School districts are launching their own school leadership programs. The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) launched the Mary Jane Patterson Fellowship program, where 10-12 leaders went through an intensive 5-phase schedule designed to prepare aspiring educators for demanding roles of district leadership. Participant results show high levels of self-awareness, openness to feedback, and focus on building trusting relationships with superiors.

The New Professionalism of Teachers

The term “teacher leader” can mean many things: an educator who takes a novice teacher under their wing, one who participates in extracurricular networks and professional development, or a teacher who also is an activist for their students, school, and colleagues. But sometimes being a teacher leader is finding ways to be more effective and efficient in the classroom with their students and fellow teachers. In a Courier-Journal commentary, Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, the 2016 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, shares examples of how some educators across Kentucky are using innovative ways to exhibit leadership, such as taking on hybrid positions with the state Department of Education or local universities, using class time to encourage students to collaborate, or sharing classes to build upon the strengths of co-teachers.

One Thing Leaders Must Do

An EdWeek Opinion piece reflecting on leadership at schools and similar organizations inspired by the quote “Never look down on others unless you are trying to lift them up”.

Providing Stability in the Time of Crisis

Harvard’s Usable Knowledge article Providing Stability in the Time of Crisis addresses productive practices in uncertain times.

Sowing Seeds of Hope

EPFP alum Robert Barr (DC EPFP 1969-70) and Emily Gibson published an article on the importance of building a positive school culture in a recent issue of Educational Leadership. The piece, which draws upon their award winning book, Building a Culture of Hope: Enriching Schools with Optimism and Opportunity, discusses the concept of a “culture of hope” and instilling a sense of optimism in schools, which they believe improves achievement and engagement levels among low-income students. “With schoolwide agreement that all students can learn,” they write, “remarkable things can occur.” The article guides educators and school leaders on how to create this culture among their school community and provide students with a sense of pride, belonging, and purpose.

The Rise of Women in Education

A new book titled The Rise of Women in Higher Education explores the increased number of women leaders in higher education and the obstacles that have held them back. Inside Higher Ed shared an interview with the author, Gary A. Berg. 

The Transformation-Ready Higher Education Institution

A detailed new research report led by the American Council on Education and others highlights how leaders in higher education can prepare for and promote positive transformation during a time of disruption in the field.

This Is What Real Leaders Do

Every leader has different goals for what they want to accomplish, but what should the top goal of every good leader be? Leadership coach Tanveer Naseer writes in an article on his blog that leaders should focus on supporting their team to be successful as their top priority, because creating an environment where employees want to give their best encourages them to actually do so every day in the workplace. Understanding what your team needs in order to be successful, and then providing that to them, allows leaders to build trust with their employees and shows that team effectiveness is more important than individual power or prestige.

Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure, and Salary

The Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) has released their eighth survey that reports on urban superintendent demographics, Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure, and Salary. The report, which is based on survey responses from 80 percent of CGCS member districts, shows that the diversity of urban superintendents has grown over time, with Black and Hispanic superintendents making up more than half of GCGS superintendents and nearly 30 percent of all CGCS superintendents are women. Tenure of superintendents has also gradually increased over time, with the average superintendent staying in their district for just over three years.

What if We Don’t Return to School as Usual?

The National Equity Project asks, What if We… Don’t Return to School as Usual but rather use this time to reimagine education and the education system.

What Makes a School System Successful? Study the Redwoods

Jin-Soo Huh at EdSurge explores the California Redwoods metaphor for a school system shared by Jennifer Ferrari of Distinctive Schools. The recommendation for the new school year is to “think about how you can strengthen and grow your district’s initiatives and priorities by intertwining them. And then aim to be nimble and flexible as you support innovation and improvement.”

Why Schools Will Never Be The Same

How are K-12 education leaders managing the shifts taking place now and expected in the future as a result of school closures? In The 74, Top Education Leaders Discuss How They’ve Navigated the Coronavirus So Far – and Why Schools Will Never Be The Same.

12 Words That Should Be in Our Educational Vocabulary

Strong vocabulary is at the heart of a successful career in education. Peter DeWitt from Education Week compiled a list of the 12 words that should be used in education. Those words include resilience, inclusivity, leadership, and growth just to name a few. DeWitt believes that the use of these words can create a more positive environment in the field of education.

5 Ways to Improve Your School Staff Meeting Agenda

School Leaders Now presents five common sense reminders about agenda-setting for school leaders. These tips are applicable to leading all meetings. Start from a place of recognizing the power of sticking to a relevant agenda and demonstrating to teachers and attendees that their voices are essential, and that you care about their time. 

Leadership in Society

Civil Rights Bus Tour, Reflections from Leaders

Will the Past Be Repeated? and Part II

The Fragility of Justice and the Ordinary Heroes Who Must Uphold It

The John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, host of MS EPFP, organized a 4-day Civil Rights Bus Tour. IEL board member John Merrow and public policy director Mary Kingston Roche (DC ’10-11) reflect and share leadership lessons from their powerful experiences.

Collaborating for Equity and Justice: Moving Beyond Collective Impact

Nonprofit Quarterly addresses challenges within the Collective Impact model. The working group promotes equity and justice through six principles to facilitate successful cross-sector collaboration for social change, based on an extensive research review. Their call to action and guide to implementation take steps to move beyond collective impact and toward authentic measurable change. 

Community Collaboratives Show Persistence and Progress

A recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article highlights the importance of cross-boundary leadership and collaboration across communities for the long-term success of initiatives. Using Milwaukee’s campaign to decrease teen pregnancy—an effort that brought together stakeholders from education, public health, business, and media, and reduced the teen birth rate in the city by more than 50 percent—as an example of a successful community collaborative, the article notes common challenges that such initiatives face when working across sectors and how they addressed them. These challenges include getting and keeping stakeholders at the table, managing changes in the external environment, getting community buy-in, and using data to improve and communicate results.

Ethical Leadership

Mark Quiner of the National Center for State Legislatures hosted a session on Ethical Leadership at the 2018 Washington Policy Seminar. He unpacked ethical dilemmas and debates facing today’s leaders with a focus on actionable strategies and guidelines that promote inclusion and civility. View his slides here.

Five Signs You’re Successful Whether You Know It Or Not

Forbes’ definition of success is based off of five signs that have no correlation with monetary achievement. Rather, it is based on individual development by the ability to have and spread confidence, certainty, and love.

The Essential Skills of Cross Sector Leadership

Cross-sector leadership helps to facilitate the full capacity of a community’s education ecosystem of support for students. The Stanford Social Innovation Review shares a helpful framework on the Essential Skills of Cross Sector Leadership.

The Key Leadership Skill that Steve Jobs and Ben Franklin Share

Biographer Walter Isaacson draws parallels between two well-known but rarely compared leaders. He moves past strong personalities to highlight their shared abilities to lead collaborative teams and generate successful results. Isaacson resists delineating explicit leadership takeaways, recommending instead that “the best way to learn how to be a good leader…is studying other people. Everybody does it differently”. 

Lincoln’s Leadership in a Time of Crisis

A new podcast from the AspenInstitute Socrates Program explores Lincoln’s Leadership in a Time of Crisis and how his traits including humility, loyalty, and rhetorical mastery may help leaders today consider how to manage the challenge of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Margaret Wheatley’s Ten Principles for Creating Healthy Communities

The Teaching in Community program promotes ten principles for creating healthy communities, teased out through asking the right questions. The principles cover engaging and aligning community members, expecting leaders, and knowledge to come from anywhere, and taking responsibility for workplace and partnership culture. 

The Most Important Leadership Trait

Teresa Hack makes a strong case for humble leadership, arguing humility is an attribute that makes leaders great.


Navigating Grief

With the influx of unexpected loss, grief may be overwhelming individuals and impacting work. Psychology Today suggests how leaders can help navigate these changes.


Nonprofit Leadership at a Crossroads

Nonprofit Quarterly's recent article, Nonprofit Leadership at a Crossroads, considers the challenges and opportunities related to the current generational change in social sector leadership.


NPR and the Race Card Project: Join the Conversation

The Race Card Project explores a different kind of conversation about race. People are asked to think about their experiences, observations, triumphs, laments, theories or anthem about race or cultural identity. NPR then takes those thoughts and distills them down to one six-word sentence. You can find hundreds of submissions and submit your own stories at www.theracecardproject.com.

On Leadership Interview Series

 The Center for Creative Leadership hosts the On Leadership Interview Series, a compendium of video interviews with some of the world’s most experienced and successful leaders. 


“Presidential” Podcast from the Washington Post

Ever wonder about how presidents handled crises and made tough decisions? Have you wanted to learn more about lesser known presidents like James Polk and Chester Arthur? Lillian Cunningham, the author of the Washington Post column “On Leadership,” is highlighting each of our 44 presidents in “Presidential,” a weekly podcast leading up to Election Day 2016. She’ll examine the leadership and legacy of each of our commander-in-chiefs through interviews with experts like Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, and Bob Woodward. Tune into the podcast each week to hear about your favorite presidents and those you may have forgotten since high school U.S. history class—and be well prepared for the Washington Policy Seminar, which will focus on presidential politics and education policy!

Strong Voice in 'Fight for 15' Fast-Food Wage Campaign

A reminder that leaders can come from anywhere and any circumstance, a New York Times article, “Strong Voice in ‘Fight for 15’ Fast-Food Wage Campaign,” highlights the strong leadership and determination of Terrance Wise. A natural-born leader, Wise calls upon fellow low-wage workers to fight for better pay for their families and draws comparisons to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his strong will and leadership. Working in fast-food restaurants since he was 16 and living in poverty while holding two low-wage jobs, Wise has become the national face of the Fight for 15 movement and has inspired thousands of workers to join peaceful protests and strikes in demand of a $15 hourly wage for fast-food employees.

TED Talk: Drew Dudley Everyday Leadership

At TEDx Toronto 2010, Drew Dudley looks at how we can be an “everyday leader.” In this short video, he talks about the little things we can do to have an impact on someone. He uses a personal story of to talk about “lollipop moments” that can influence someone else. 

The Crisis of Leadership and Confidence in Ferguson, Mo.

The tragedy in Ferguson, Mo., illuminates complex issues facing our nation and communities. A piece from the Washington Post, "The crisis of leadership and confidence in Ferguson, Mo.," focuses attention to the lack of leadership on both the state and local levels and the disconnect between the leaders and the community of Ferguson. Jennings, Mo., whose schools are attended by some students in Ferguson, has shared their work on improving education in their local schools. We also encourage you to join the conversation on the Peabody Award-winning The Race Card Project, designed to engage the public in a broad, candid conversation about race and featuring brief notes from individuals across the country and around the world on their experiences, thoughts, and observations on race and how it impacts our global community.

The Trap Within Our Brains: Why Awareness, Humility, and Self-Compassion are Powerful Practices for Every Leader

In this article, Dave Mochel looks at how our perceptions of the world affect our leadership style. Using brain science, we learn that our objectivity is different from others. He gives some examples of how we can use this understanding to improve our leadership.

The 3 "Be's" of leadership

Each leader needs a strategy. This article presents three “Be’s” as a strategy for leaders to utilize to ‘ground’ their perspective in relation to their environment, their organization, their team and themselves. 

7 Leadership Lessons from Shakespeare

William Shakespeare will forever be one of the greatest writers of all time. Shakespeare’s writings are not only known for their tragic storylines and memorable characters, but also their lessons in leadership. A piece by the World Economic Forum highlights lessons from King Lear to Othello that all provide examples of what it takes to be a leader and how Shakespeare made most of his protagonist’s strong leaders.

10 Most Popular SSIR Articles of 2015

The Stanford Social Innovation Review is a source of useful and relevant articles and opinions by and for social change leaders from around the world. At the end of 2015, the publication put together a list of its 10 most popular articles from the year—and the most popular one was on education. “Rethinking How Students Succeed” looks at different education initiatives and the importance of soft skills in teaching and learning. Other top articles of interest include “The Nonprofit Leadership Development Deficit” and “The Future of Fundraising.”

11 Powerful Traits of Successful Leaders

Forbes addresses how individuals can build on their success by developing 11 must-have traits of a powerful and successful leader. One quality discussed includes learning agility – the ability to adapt to suddenly changing circumstances and to know how and when to seize on opportunities amid a changing landscape.


Leadership in the Workplace

A Culture of Care, Without Compromise

In a Stanford Social Innovation Review piece, nonprofit leader Michele Booth Cole discusses the importance of creating an organizational culture based on caring and appreciation. She notes that if an organization cares about its employees and is staffed by colleagues who care about each other and the work they do, then people are motivated to do well and, in turn, the organization succeeds. She shares four ways her small nonprofit fosters caring in the office: staff-wide conversations with prospective and new hires during and after the recruitment process; company traditions like social activities and celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries; investing in employees through benefits, professional development, and mentorship; and holding people accountable by looking for the “teachable moment.”

Boarding Call for Next-Gen Leaders

In a recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Anna Pikovsky Auerbach, COO of the Moonridge Group, discusses the importance of nonprofits engaging millennials—young adults born between 1980 and 1995—on their boards. She notes that while 1 in 3 Americans is a millennial and they have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the workforce, only 2 percent of board members are under the age of 30. And despite their youth, millennials tend to be very engaged in the workplace and their communities: 70 percent spent at least an hour volunteering last year, 84 percent make charitable donations, and 33 percent work in relatively new and growing industries like technology, telecommunications, and electronics. Auerbach suggests four ways to recruit millennial leaders to join nonprofit boards, including developing a strategy for identifying, recruiting, and onboarding millennial board members; starting with junior or associate boards to introduce younger leaders to the role; create engaging events and opportunities; and bringing them on in pairs to make them more comfortable.

Build a Change Platform, Not a Change Program 

Organizational change initiatives tend to have a dismal track record, but a McKinsey article, “Build a change platform, not a change program,” offers innovative strategies in how an organization might approach change to ensure its effectiveness and success. Traditional change models focus on change starting at the top of an organization, rolling out efforts with little or no input from staff, and engineering change programs rather than letting them naturally emerge—all of which can limit how effective change can be. However, the article notes that making change platform, rather than a change program, makes the process a more collaborative and organic effort that looks at multiple options and empowers individuals at all levels to have provide input can be much more effective and develops leaders into change enablers who encourage their teams to initiate change.

CEO-to-CEO Mentoring

This article from Texas CEO Magazine focusses on two mentoring pairs. It discusses what the two new leaders learned from the mentor-mentee relationship and how the process worked for them, including several recommendations about knowledge-sharing and advisory committees.  

Change Leader, Change Thyself 

When looking to initiate change in their organization, leaders tend to forget to look at how to change the most important change agent in that process: themselves. “Change leader, change thyself,” an in-depth McKinsey article, delves into the reasons why individuals who are leading change must also be willing to change themselves in order for the effort to be successful. Rather than focusing solely on the outcomes of the organizational change, it is critical for leaders to look at themselves—especially how they directly impact others in their organization and how their team perceives them as an individual and as a fellow employee—in order to more effectively create an environment and team that is conducive to implementing change.

Decoding Leadership: What Really Matters 

Developing effective leaders is a critical component of a successful organization, but new research suggests that encouraging only four types of behavior is the secret to building strong leaders. “Decoding leadership: What really matters,” a recent article by McKinsey, found that while many leadership development programs cover a wide range of behaviors, a survey of 189,000 workers worldwide found that four kinds of behavior account for 89 percent of leadership effectiveness: being supportive, operating with strong results orientation, seeking different perspectives, and solving problems effectively. This data points to a leader profile that many employees and organizations are looking to develop.

Execution Pitfalls: Why Do Most Strategic Plans Fail? 

While it can be difficult to successfully implement an organizational strategic plan, one of the best ways to prevent a plan from failing is to know what typically makes organizations unable to execute them well. A recent article from Leadership Strategies outlines four reasons why strategic plans are often not executed well: lack of urgency, infrequent review, lack of alignment, and lack of accountability.

5 Essential Traits of Effective Everyday Leadership

Leadership is something that requires constant check-in with oneself and others. In this article, leaders learn to look for five key characteristics in themselves and develop skills for encouraging them in others.

Followable Leadership—Lead so Others Will Follow

Forbes addresses followable leadership. Using a short personal example, the author talks about leading so that others may follow, using five “brave leadership questions.

4 Powerful Conversations that will Improve Your Leadership

Lolly Daskal argues in The Leadership Gap that, to be an effective leader, one has to be less task-oriented and more people focused. The book identifies four conversations that leaders should actively initiate. Daskal is the founder of Lead From Within which focuses on global leadership and entrepreneurship. 

Healthy Skepticism or Toxic Negativity? Good Teams Know the Difference

In a recent blog post, Switch & Shift looks at the differences between skepticism and cynicism—and explains why skeptics are a critical part of any team. We often have a negative connotation with the word “skeptic” and think that their constant questioning and unwillingness to give an instant “yes” to an idea means that they’re not a team player. However, skepticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just means that they are looking for a better understanding of the issue at hand. Cynics, on the other hand, reject ideas right off the bad and don’t give consideration to any idea they don’t immediately agree with. The article offers four ways for leaders to encourage well-meaning and constructive skepticism in their organizations, including establishing a policy of idea acceptance, prohibiting negative language, allowing time for research, and checking your own reactions.

Help Leaders Find Their Role in Innovation

Leaders have different roles and challenges in organizational innovation. One way to understand how to pursue innovation — and help people focus — is to distinguish differences among roles at various leader levels. The Center for Creative Leadership’s article focuses on five roles: leading self, leading others, leading managers, leading the function, leading the organization.

How Do Leaders Make Tough Decisions?

Being a leader can come with many perks and rewards, like influence over your organization or a corner office. But leadership is also challenging and requires true leaders to be held accountable and made difficult decisions about critical things. A recent post in ReVolve, the leadership blog of a global assessment company, offers four ways in which leaders make tough decisions. These include soliciting perspectives of trusted advisors, taking the time to leverage all available information, taking responsibility for results, and following principles.

How and Why to Help Employees Find Meaning in Their Work

In a recent TalentSpace blog post, organizational development consultant Sherrie Haynie looks at the importance of keeping employees engaged and helping them find meaning in their work. She notes that employees seek meaning throughout various stages of their career, and a key way to engage employees is to help them find that meaningfulness in their everyday work by meeting their long-term needs and keeping open employee-manager communication. Having these conversations not only keeps leaders abreast of their employees’ interests and work, but also ensures workers are engaged and feeling valued as a member of the organization.

How to Act Quickly Without Sacrificing Critical Thinking

An unexpected work urgency can be counterproductive and costly. If you’re quick to react you may come up with a short-sighted solution. If you’re to slow to respond you run the potential of missing on an opportunity. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, leadership expert Jesse Sostrin explains how productive leaders use reflective urgency –the ability to bring conscious, rapid reflection to the priorities of the moment – to tackle any situation at any moment. 

How to Become an Authentic Leader in the Digital Era

Both digitalization and authenticity have been documented as gold standard leadership practices. Vivek Bapat provides a Knowing-Doing-Being framework to become an effective, true-to-yourself leader in an increasingly digital world.  

How to break bad management habits before they reach the next generation of leaders

Looking to break bad management habits in your organization? This TED talk by Elizabeth Lyle can offer some strategies.

How to Pick the Right People to Be Managers

We all know it’s important to hire good managers, but how do you choose employees who have good leadership qualities? In a recent blog post, leadership consultant Wally Bock draws upon a Gallup poll on management to highlight some important factors about organizational leadership, including the fact that many managers are “wrong for their role.” In the post, he outlines the four kinds of behavior that make a strong leader: a positive work ethic, willingness to talk with others about their performance or behavior, willingness to be accountable for their decisions, and a genuine desire to help others succeed.

Leadership effectiveness (or its absence) starts at the top

S. Chris Edmonds brief blog and video emphasizes the importance of leadership team focus because senior leaders create their organization’s culture. By asking that team to examine how healthy their team culture is and helping that team boost the effectiveness of their culture, leaders have a greater likelihood they’ll effectively lead the culture change they desire.

Leadership Means Learning to Look Behind the Mask

How do you receive honest feedback from your colleagues when you’re in the top leadership role in your organization? In a New York Times commentary, Barbara Mistick, president of Wilson College, shares her struggles to get insight from her organization when she was president of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Perceived as an outsider by many of her colleagues—she was only the second non-librarian leader of the library system in over a century—she found it difficult to gain the trust of co-workers for them to feel comfortable having honest and candid conversations with her. It wasn’t until after she announced her plans to leave her role there that she received honest feedback—and some of the most helpful insight from her tenure at the library.

Managing Stuff, Leading People

The vast majority of people are promoted into leadership positions without having demonstrated an ability to actually lead. This post emphasizes the difference between managing and leading. To be a good leader, you must understand that just because you are good at managing, you are not automatically good at leading. 

Race Matters Institute Assessment

The Race Matters Institute created this quick assessment to determine what steps your organization is taking to advance racial equity through its work and what steps are usually needed to achieve equitable results. It will quickly help you assess your progress and consider your options for moving to the next stage.

Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders

While many leaders may face the same or similar challenges in their organizations, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works in every situation or with every team member. In Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders, leadership experts Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston provide useful guidelines for how leaders can improve themselves. The book uses three practices—taking multiple perspectives, asking different questions, and seeing more of their system—to help leaders better understand themselves, their roles, their colleagues, and the world around them. For more information watch this video of the authors speaking about the key theoretical concepts emerging in their new book.

Talent Matters 

People leading and working in nonprofits are the key to the success of their organizations. Without strong and capable talent, social sector organizations will not—and cannot—reach their full potential. A series of articles from the Stanford Social Innovation Review offers the views of eight nonprofit leaders on the importance of and best practices for investing in talent. In addition, the series provides the perspective of funders who invest in talent and leadership in social sector organizations as a grantmaking strategy.

The Dawn of System Leadership

A recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review looks at the importance of system leadership in tackling some of our society’s biggest problems. “The Dawn of System Leadership” offers what researchers understand about system leaders—those who foster collective leadership and bring together different stakeholders and leaders to solve a common challenge or unite for a common cause. Highlighting exemplary system leaders—including Nelson Mandela, a community youth development organization in Boston that works with high-risk kids, and the head of the research department at Nike—the article provides six guidelines for becoming a system leader: learning on the job, balancing advocacy and inquiry, engaging people across boundaries, letting go, building one’s own toolkit, and working with other system leaders.

The Most Impactful Leaders You’ve Never Heard Of

The Stanford Social Innovation Review raises the importance of network entrepreneurs as a key vehicle for creating authentic relationships and building deep trust from the bottom up. The article addresses four principles of network entrepreneurship: trust not control, humility not brand, node not hub, and mission not organization.

The Trickle-Down Effect of Good (and Bad) Leadership

Research has shown that emotions and behaviors are contagious, but what about leadership? A Harvard Business Review article features research that examines how high-level leaders can directly impact their direct reports, as well as the employees that are managed by those middle-level managers. The study shows that the middle-level managers who report to very effective high-level leaders also tend to be rated as highly effective, and the employees reporting to them also tend to be above-average workers. Conversely, subpar high-level managers tend to have less effective employees below them, showing a trickle-down effect of how leadership affects entire groups of employees. The study also found that some of the most “contagious” behaviors of leaders, both highly effective and subpar, include developing self and others, technical skills, strategy skills, and consideration and cooperation.

These are the four essential qualities you need to be an effective leader

Do you have an idea of what qualities make a good a leader? Fast Company suggests the Four Essential Qualities You Need to Be An Effective Leader.

What Do Your Meetings Say About Your Leadership Skills?

We know that leadership development is an important part of your career, but how can you tell if you’re really growing as a leader? Leadership Strategies created a quiz to see how your actions in meetings can identify your group leadership abilities, strengths, and areas to grow. Some of the scenarios from the quiz include handling sensitive topics that may arise during meetings, staying on schedule, and keeping your colleagues engaged.

What Social-Sector Leaders Need to Succeed

A recent article published by McKinsey, “What social-sector leaders need to succeed,” discusses the leadership quality and development in the social sector. They surveyed leaders of nonprofits, foundations, and other social-sector organizations on critical attributes of a successful leader, and the results showed that many of these leaders see low investment in leadership development in their sector. The article highlights three near-term solutions—committing more funding for leadership development, focusing on resources leaders need, and bringing in mentoring and coaching from the private sector—that may be effective ways to begin bridging the leadership gap in social-sector organizations.

Why Isn’t Equality in Leadership Skills Changing the Number of Female Leaders?

An article from Fast Company looks at new research that shows men and women have equal leadership abilities, but fewer women are promoted to leadership positions than men. The study, which synthesizes assessments taken by 15,000 participants being considered for executive leadership positions at 300 companies in 18 countries, shows that the ratio of men to women chosen to complete the assessments was weighted in favor of male participants. And while more women are chosen for assessment for lower leadership roles—25 percent of candidates for operational-level leadership roles are women—only 1 in 10 CEO candidates are female. The article also notes that this gender leadership disparity has been noted in multiple research reports: a McKinsey/LeanIn.org study showed that only 79 percent of women are likely to make the jump from manager to director, while 100 percent of men are likely to make that advancement, and a Deloitte study shows that while 21 percent of millennial males lead a department or are members of a senior management team, only 16 percent of women can say the same.

Zappos' 'No Bosses' Approach

Is it possible for an organization to improve without a traditional management system? That’s the question addressed in a Washington Post article that discusses how Zappos, an online retailer, has done away with job titles, bosses, and corporate hierarchy, and how its employees are reacting to the change. Zappos has adopted a new management approach called “holacracy,” which uses self-governed teams called circles instead of a more traditional chain-of-command approach. While many employees and consultants are open to the change, some are wary of such a big shift in organizational management, which Zappos is embracing and they are encouraging conversation about the shift among their employees.

4 Radical Leadership Practices That Will Dramatically Increase Engagement

According to one study, 70% of employees are checked out and not fully engaged with their work. Employee engagement is important to the success of any organization, as well as in the education sector; teachers with higher morale and who are engaged and supported in schools tend to be more effective educators. A recent Forbes article highlights four leadership practices to increase engagement from Mark C. Crowley, leadership guru and author of Lead from the Heart: Transformational Leadership for the 21st Century. His suggested practices include investing deeply in employees, connecting personally with colleagues, hiring individuals who care and are invested in the organization and others, and show that individuals—and their work—truly matters to you and the organization.

5 Qualities of a Good Leader

We can often recognize strong leaders in the workplace and in policy settings, but sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons why they’re good leaders. A recent Lighthouse blog post highlights five qualities of good leaders and shows why leaders are more than just strong contributors. The qualities discussed include showing empathy for others, being a good listener, consistency and accountability, interest in leadership, and commitment to learning and growth.

7 Secrets of Servant Leadership That Will Lead You to Success

When we think of typical organizational leadership, we think of employees working for their bosses and responding to top-down requests. However, a leadership concept that has been gaining traction over the past decade turns that hierarchical idea on its head. In an article for Inc. magazine, management writer Peter Economy discusses the rise of “servant leadership” and how it can positively impact organizational culture. Economy notes that servant leaders are those that believe that every person has value and deserves civility, trust, and respect, and that people can accomplish much when they’re inspired by a purpose beyond themselves. Servant leaders engage in five main practices to help their teams accomplish their goals: clarifying and reinforcing the need for service to others, listening intently and observing closely, acting as selfless mentors, demonstrating persistence, and lovingly holding themselves and others accountable for their commitments.


Lessons from Leaders

A CEO Shares Four Strategies for Improving Your Leadership Skills

Leadership skills are vital to any member of an organization. Solomon Thimothy, CEO of the marketing firms ONE IMS and ClickX, offers his advice on the four “C’s” that aspiring leaders should follow: clarity, commitment, compassion, and courage. Thimothy believes that these traits can be learned and will lead to future success for individuals.

Dealing with Change

Because transitions of all kinds are prevalent in organizations and agencies, change management is an important skill for any leader. This commentary piece, written by Build-A-Bear Workshop CEO Sharon Price John, chronicles her challenges after assuming the top leadership role at a struggling corporation. Reflecting on her task of creating a strategic vision and plan for the company, John identifies five change management actions that all leaders should remember during an organizational transition: be visibly passionate about the vision and keep frustrations private; reiterate the long-term vision and specific goals as often as possible; monitor the corporate mindset regularly and informally; identify progress and negativity quickly; and frequently remind the organization that they are being asked to act differently in order to achieve different results.

Don’t Chase Everything That Shines

Sandra L. Kurtzig, chairwoman and CEO of Kenandy, a software management firm based in Redwood City, CA, describes her discoveries about what qualities are important for a strong leader in this interview with Adam Bryant. It is interesting to see how the leadership qualities Kurtzig describes apply to many different disciplines. Read the full interview here.

Education Week's Leaders to Learn From  

Education leaders can provide a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and advice on how to effectively improve curriculum and instruction, address management challenges, engage parents and communities, and create learning environments that prepare all students for success. Each year, Education Week highlights the work of forward-thinking district leaders in their Leaders to Learn From report, which shares the stories, challenges, and successes of district leaders across the country. This year, 16 exceptional district leaders were profiled, including NY EPFP Fellow Alita McCoy Zuber and MI EPFP alum Kathy Fortino, whose areas of expertise range from parent engagement to student voice to special education.

Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life

The essential elements of creating a successful vision, spelled out in an engaging story. Full Steam Ahead! By Ken Blanchard and Jesse Lyn Stoner helps you get focused, get energized, and get results. 

Leadership Lessons We Can Learn from Nelson Mandela

Joshua Fredenburg, author, leadership/relationship expert, and Generation Y television commentator, shares his reflections on Nelson Mandela's life and leadership.

The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World

Forbes addresses how individuals can build on their success by developing 11 must-have traits of a powerful and successful leader. One quality discussed includes learning agility – the ability to adapt to suddenly changing circumstances and to know how and when to seize on opportunities amid a changing landscape.

On the Future of Leadership Development

As part of their annual report, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation brought together six representatives of their first class of the WKKF Community Leadership Network for a candid conversation about leadership, their communities, and their experience within the Network. Their videotaped discussions have been posted to provide other leaders and the public with insight into their beliefs, hopes, and expectations as leaders in their communities throughout the nation.

One Essential Trait for Positive Leadership: Receptivity

This article emphasizes the importance of listening and being receptive to feedback in leadership. 

Reasons to Track Team Accomplishments

Mike Henry recaps his team accomplishments every day as a strategy to focus their future. His reasons are as follows: Accomplishments propel us and prove our experiences. They program our brains for action and become a habit. Finally, they inspire confident humility that makes your team more productive. 

Reigniting Leaders’ Passion to Advance Equity

PolicyLink President Michael McAfee shared his perspective on the changes he believes America needs to make and how to channel his emotions into energy towards these changes, in a podcast for the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s 2017 Nonprofit Management Institute

Scaling Up Business Podcast

 Interested in scaling up ideas/programs/organizations? Scaling Up business podcast offers case studies in how various companies have scaled up their practice.

Timeless Advice for Making a Hard Choice

This Harvard Business Review article addresses tactics to awaken your moral imagination when facing a gray-area of decision-making. Prof. Badaracco challenges leaders to follow the Golden Rule from the perspective of those that would be directly impacted by leader’s decisions.

What CEOs are Reading in 2017

A collection of reading lists, including both fiction and non-fiction, shared by leaders of some of the world’s biggest organizations. McKinsey & Company compile this list every summer.

5 Keys to Inspiring Leadership No Matter Your Style

  Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, but there are some keys that anyone can apply to be an inspiring and effective leader. Peter Handal, chief executive of New York City-based Dale Carnegie Training, a leadership-training company, says they are 1) Face Challenges; 2) Win Trust; 3) Be Authentic; 4) Earn Respect; and 5) Stay Curious. 

5 Leadership Lessons for Today's Executive

"The poster of 12 O’clock High, the 1949 Gregory Peck-led vehicle (movie) centering on the underperforming 918th Bomber Group, hangs framed in my office as a constant reminder of the timeless lessons of leadership the film triumphed. Its lessons . . . can be translated from the harrowing skies above WWII Europe to the (significantly less dangerous) modern workplace." Read the entire article here.

5 Leadership Lessons from Captain Kirk

What can we learn about leadership from Star Trek? In this article, Forbes identifies the successful qualities of Captain Kirk’s style of leadership and provides five tips for leaders who want to lead their organizations to new heights. Click here to read the article.

5 Questions to Help You Lead Better Next Year

Alaina Love establishes an important topic for reflection- what you’ve learned about yourself as a leader and how your leadership has shaped the evolution of your team this year. She presents five questions that offer leadership insights and why these questions are so valuable to leaders. 

2015 Danzberger Lecture given by Francisco Guajardo

In Francisco Guajardo’s 2015 address, the final Danzberger Memorial Lecture at the 2015 Washington Policy Seminar, he shared lessons on knowing oneself as a leader and leading in today’s pressure-filled education environment.

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