Some Possible Elements of a Leadership Development Program
by Tim Huet

Orientation/Education Program: This program should provide new entrants with the information and skills necessary to operate as equals/leaders. Some possible orientation topics include: Cooperative Finances; Democratic Meeting Process; Effective Communication and Conflict Resolution; Legal Aspects of Cooperative Operation; and Cooperative History. An orientation that addresses issues of Democratic Participation and Leadership can be particularly valuable.

Ongoing Training Program to Enhance Discrete Skills that Make Up Leadership Bundle: For example, training in facilitation, mediation, mentoring/coaching, teaching, proposal drafting, advocacy, and public speaking.


Training in Self-Management Skills: Could include time management; goal-setting and self-assessment; stress reduction and self-care; rehearsal/preparation strategies; etc. This training could be provided internally; it might also involve reimbursing workers for outside studies.

Supervisor Selection and Training: This might involve having something like development of self-management and leadership skills in members of my department in the supervisor job description. Of course, this would be meaningless unless that job responsibility was taken into account when hiring, training, and evaluating supervisors.

Mentoring Program: Along with specific business skills, a mentoring program could aim at developing participantsĂ self-management and leadership skills.

Evaluations: Incorporating self-management skills and leadership contributions in every workerĂs evaluation; as part of this, establishing self-management and leadership goals for all.

Collective Evaluations/Collective Evaluation Committee: A collective evaluation committee is charged with organizing an annual comprehensive social audit of the cooperative as well as periodically (e.g., monthly) sitting down and asking is there something happening - which presents a problem or opportunity×that no one is addressing openly/directly. For example, the committee may identify that X is really messing up, irritating co-workers, etc. but no one is saying anything about it openly. It would be the job of the committee to put the issue on the collectiveĂs agenda, possibly with recommendations. Such a committee can increase accountability while reducing the burden on individual leaders to play the enforcer - a burden that often contributes to leader burnout. The committee can also serve as a vehicle for the leadership development of its members.

Diversity Training: To enhance understanding/appreciation of cultural diversity as well as variations in individual styles/approaches/contributions.

Mission Statement and/or Other: Including in the cooperativeĂs mission a commitment to shared leadership and the development of self-management skills. In a cooperative with supervisory positions, a commitment to promotion from within might also be valuable.

Structural and Self Autonomy: Creating space in which individuals, departments, etc. can exercise discretion, initiative, creativity, etc. is critical to developing leadership and self-management skills.

Self-management/Leadership Library: Maintaining a library of resources regarding self-management and leadership skills.

Community Leadership Circles, Community Contributor Circles, etc.: Groups made up of individuals from one or more cooperatives that come together to support each other in becoming more effective cooperative contributors/leaders. This could involve a circle member identifying where s/he would like to improve; s/he could solicit suggestions on how to proceed and feedback regarding her/his progress toward the identified goals.

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