Become Involved in Leadership Academy

The following criteria for the successful implementation of the Coming of Age workshop, Leadership Academy: People 50+ Leading the Way to Civic Engagement, has been developed to help your nonprofit agency receive the greatest benefit and impact from using self-directed teams of volunteers, Make a Big Difference Teams (MBDTs), consisting of people 50+ who want to address a critical-needs area within your nonprofit organization.

Strengths-Based Leadership Selection

Key volunteer leaders were thoughtfully selected to participate in the Leadership Academy through a careful and comprehensive application process and a rigorous five session workshop. Volunteer leaders who participated in the training were vetted and found to have substantial credibility either through previous employment and/or volunteer activities. To help ensure the success of your agency’s community-based project, Academy Partners should select a key staff person who has the necessary competencies to serve as a resource and guide for volunteer leaders who will serve in MBDTs.

Collaborative Co-Leadership & Staff Support

The key staff member should be aware that the workshop’s MBDTs have agreed to share leadership responsibilities amongst themselves during their community-based project with your nonprofit organization. How each MBDT shares their leadership responsibilities is determined by each team. While the volunteer leaders who serve in MBDTs, have made a commitment to developing each project from its inception to its completion, it is highly recommended that a key staff member from your nonprofit work in collaboration with the MBDT. The most effective projects should be coordinated by the MBDT in conjunction with a key staff person. The key staff person’s role is to serve not only as a resource for each MBDT, but to answer questions as they occur during the team’s project.

In addition, a MBDT liaison has been appointed by each team and she or he will serve in several capacities:

1) She or he will serve as a point of contact for any obstacles that arise during the project that warrant the need of outside assistance and that the MBDT feels like they cannot resolve on their own,

2) She or he will submit progress reports (orally or in writing) on the status of each project to the key staff member while engaged in project activities, and

3) She or he may contact Coming of Age with project updates and requests for assistance and/or the key staff member may contact Coming of Age regarding questions or requests for support during the project.

Atmosphere for Growth

Academy Partners that experience the most successful MBDTs should be supportive, flexible, responsive, and allow the MBDT autonomy in developing and implementing the project so they can act as independently as possible while shaping, designing, implementing, and evaluating the project. However, Academy Partners should expect some variation of the original plan for the project, especially as the MBDT takes ownership of the project.

Self-directed projects are most likely to bring out the best in MBDTs when they are challenging and achievable, not too complex, and offer considerable room for MBDTs to innovate and develop. Yet, it is suggested that a key staff person provide some oversight of each MBDT to ensure they are progressing towards project completion in a manner that meets your organization’s goals, mission, and time frame.

Commonly Held Norms for Self-Direction

MBDTs that develop the greatest self-direction establish team norms in the workshop and have them reinforced by a key staff member. A key staff person who distinguishes herself or himself between her or his responsibilities and the MBDTs will tend to produce better results. MBDTs that make decisions as a group, with the key staff person acting as a partner, receive the greatest outcomes. In addition, the more MBDTs experience benefits, from working with one another and the key staff person, the more likely they are to continue or expand their commitment to the organization.

Process Improvement

A key criterion of team self-direction is that the MBDT examines and improves its own internal processes. However, after the Leadership Academy workshop, each MBDT must consult with their Academy Partner to develop a substantive project, achieve the project’s goals and objectives while building organizational capacity, and oversee a diverse group of volunteer leaders who will be available for your nonprofit’s community-based project. Academy Partners need to recognize that the benefits of MBDTs are worth the time it takes to allow the team to develop and flourish.

Key staff members need to clarify to the MBDT what about the project is negotiable and what is not. Academy Partners should identify goals for and any constraints upon the MBDT in terms of their development of the project. Assisting the MBDT with understanding the project’s goals and outcomes along with the constraints they may encounter will make the MBDT better problem-solvers and reduce the time spent on false starts or unrealistic plans.

Evidence of Success

Each MBDT and nonprofit’s level of project satisfaction, along with a sense of collective efficacy, come from tangible evidence that the MBDT’s work is bearing fruit or that progress is being made. Evidence that the MBDT’s project work is making a significant difference for Academy Partners have the highest project success ratings and are also more satisfied with their MBDT’s contribution to helping their organization build capacity.

If you are interested in submitting an agency project proposal, please fill out and return the project proposal form:

Project Proposal