Public managers and employees who are looking for their next opportunity to further develop leadership skills, increase personal and professional networks, improve community awareness, and benefit their agency should consider community based leadership programs (CLP) as a viable option. Numerous CLPs are located both in urban and rural areas nationwide to meet your training needs.
While individual program formats vary, typical CLPs meet once or twice per month for six months to one year in a half-day or day-long workshop format. The programs are typically thematic or issue focused and frequently provide participants with an opportunity to tour community resources or contribute to volunteer projects. CLPs are often available in areas where access to traditional classroom based higher education is challenging, and the investment of time is significantly less than that of a college degree program. Additionally, the financial commitment is usually reasonable, and many employers are able to cover the cost as training or professional development. As a result, CLPs are viable options for individuals who want to pursue educational or training opportunities, but who have not been able to access higher education, as well as for those individuals who have attended college, but who would like exposure to additional skill sets.
CLP participants are afforded opportunities to network and develop relationships with leaders and emerging leaders from the public and private sectors as well as an opportunity to hear from and network with elected, appointed, and business officials within the community. In addition to gaining greater access to community leaders and candid insight into critical community issues, CLP participants often receive some training in applied and theoretical leadership skills from program staff, instructors, consultants, and other qualified individuals. Leadership skills developed throughout CLP participation can be utilized immediately to accomplish personal and agency specific goals.
CLPs are typically non-profit organizations, which are often affiliated with Chambers of Commerce, colleges, universities, and community extension programs. CLPs are close to the communities they serve and function as connecting webs, which often lead to deeper community engagement among CLP alums. Communities, CLP participants, and agencies all stand to gain through improved community connections and employees who possess increased leadership competence in the increasingly interconnected and competitive environment we face.
Russell “Rusty” S. Horton, MPA
PhD student, Gonzaga University