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Friday, 8 April 2016

Developing Your Leaders and Up-Skilling Your Staff

OPTIMUM NFP announces the launch of its 3rd highly acclaimed and accredited "Action Learning Question Cross-Organisational Cohort" program commencing in early July 2016.

Nonprofit organisations juggle many competing priorities, especially in the current market, with each having an impact on their future. One of these stands out for those organisations who see themselves having a long-term vision, and that being the effort and budget needed to develop leadership and generally up-skilling their staff.

In a leading article in the January 2014 edition of McKinsey Quarterly entitled "Why leadership-development programs fail", 4 reasons as to why such programs rarely achieve what they set out to achieve were identified. These were:
  1. These programs overlooked organisational context. As was highlighted in the article, "Too many training initiatives we come across rest on the assumption that one size fits all and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organisational culture, or CEO mandate." The article went further by suggesting that "Focusing on context means equipping leaders with a small number of competencies (two or three) that will make a significant difference to performance ... We have found that when a company cuts through the noise to identify a small number of leadership capabilities essential for success in its business - such as high quality decision making or stronger coaching skills - it achieves far better outcomes."
  2. These programs failed to incorporate reflection as part of the real workplace. As was highlighted in the article, "The answer sounds straight forward: tie leadership development to real on-the-job projects that have a business impact and improve learning." The article went further by suggesting that "The ability to push training participants to reflect, while also giving them real work experiences to apply new approaches and hone their skills, is a valuable combination ..." 
  3. These programs underestimated the need to change existing mind-sets. The article suggested that "Becoming a more effective leader often requires changing behaviour. But although most companies recognise that this also means adjusting underlying mindsets, too often these organisations are reluctant to address the root causes of why leaders act the way they do." It further suggested that"Identifying some of the deepest, below the surface thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioural change - one too often shirked in development programs."
  4. These programs often failed to measure real results. The article suggested that "We frequently find that companies pay lip service to the importance of developing leadership skills but have no evidence to quantify the value of their investment." The article suggests that evaluation should be focused at both the individual level as well as at the organisational outcomes, indicating that "...monitor the business impact, especially when training is tied to breakthrough projects." 
OPTIMUM NFP and Action Learning International's Action Learning Question Program ("ALQ") has been developed to specifically address the issue of cost-effective leadership and staff development for nonprofit organisations. Context has been identified through the use of organisation specific challenges which need to be addressed and resolved during the course of the program, supported by the introduction of skill and leadership attributes necessary for such resolution. Reflection has been included as a distinct and iterative activity through both formal and informal processes, supporting skills and leadership development. Mind-Sets are challenged through the co-consulting processes of the ALQ, and Results are identified and evaluated though the final reporting processes derived from the ALQ.

OPTIMUM NFP in conjunction with Action Learning International launched the Action Learning Question program ("ALQ") in the nonprofit sector in mid 2014. The ALQ program has been running successfully in the UK for over 15 years, across nonprofit, commercial and public sector organisations. In the latter alone, over 200 participants have successfully completed the program over the last 3+ years. In Australia, the ALQ is being delivered as both an in-house program as well as a public program. The latter are known as Cross-Oragnisational Cohorts ("COCH"). The ALQ program, in both formats, responds directly to the challenges and opportunities discussed above and fully supports a more evaluative framework for assessing the effectiveness of organisational learning and development.

The first COCH completed in November 2015, whilst the second program is currently underway and is due for completion in early June 2016. The program has been recognised by the Australian Institute of Management Business School who, after rigorous review of content, structure and delivery methods, has accredited the program as 1 Unit (elective) towards its highly acclaimed 12-Unit Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree.
The feedback from the first COCH was excellent and exceeded the expectations of those that attended. The second program is heading in the same direction with participants currently very enthusiastic about the process. A third program will be launched shortly for commencement in July 2016. Places for these programs are limited to ensure the best outcome for attendees.

Whilst registration forms will be available shortly on the OPTIMUM NFP website, you can register your preliminary interest by contacting David Rosenbaum at or you can contact David Rosenbaum on 0411-744-911 to discuss the program in more detail to determine its applicability to you and your organisation. The flexible design and format of the program enables interstate participants to involve themselves in Sydney-based cohorts.

Visit the OPTIMUM NFP website at and click on the "ALQ Workshops" tab to read the testimonials from the first program and to obtain information as to the structure and process of the COCH generally.

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