April 15, 2019 | Comments Off on Alexander Leadership Institute Promotes Professional Development & Company Innovation
How the Alexander Leadership Institute promotes professional development & company innovation
4 competencies, 9 months, 2 programs, 30% growth – 1 Program in Leadership and Team Building
At Alexander Youth Network, we do a great job of providing training in hard clinical skills. Before any employees can work with our kids they do two full weeks of intensive training, in addition to a series of mandatory online courses for employees. Each day at Alexander is a test of those skills and filled with learning moments for staff.
Yet we noticed that many of our staff members were making lateral and not vertical professional moves. Why?
Our staff are trained, they have experience, and they know the agency… but they didn’t have the soft skills like the ability to have an effective crucial conversation or demonstrating assertiveness, that are transferrable into leadership roles.
Thus the Alexander Leadership Institute was created.
This 9-month program would allow a select few staff members to gain skills, discuss with other teams, and innovate the company culture of Alexander. The course focuses on 4 competencies; self-awareness, learning agility, influence, and communication. With at least one in-person event a month for example; a DiSC assessment, networking event or book discussion, participants of the institute learn from each other and cross-collaborate on projects throughout the program.
Mentorship & Performance Improvement
The two biggest components of the program are the mentorship and the performance improvement project. Both components are designed for participants to look prospectively at their careers, Alexander as an organization, and the connection between the two. Participants then choose a mentor from Senior Leadership to help develop personal and professional goals for the institute. This partnership allows staff members to gain perspective on their own service or another department that they might not see on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the performance improvement project encourages participants to work amongst the leadership institute cohort to propose solutions for issues facing staff amongst the Alexander Network. Participants gain perspectives from other team members, who may work in a different region or program, but also from their mentorship. In the end, these newfound perspectives have helped our staff develop critical thinking skills along with agency forethought.
Success Through Leadership
In three years, we have had over 40 graduates and have seen drastic changes in our staff. We have been able to promote within the organization and our graduates have encouraged others to think creatively about problem-solving within their programs. Almost 30% of the graduates of the institute have received a promotion since completion.
The Leadership Institute empowers our staff and encourages them to critically analyze problems in their classrooms, services, and management offices.
In addition to increasing the soft skills needed for leaders, our Leadership Institute graduates have offered successful programs throughout the agency. One example is the increased cultural competency amongst staff members as they develop relationships with people who are different from themselves. Another positive result is the implementation of Bark and Heal, which uses canine training to offer therapeutic services. Other performance projects have included a REWARDS program for health and wellness, better integration with senior management, and monthly staff appreciation events amongst campuses. While not all of these programs have been fully rolled out they have offered fresh ideas to the Human Resources team to continue to develop and improve.
As Alexander continues to grow, our Senior Management team recognizes the need to identify individuals within the organization that are competent and ready to jump in and lead. The Alexander Leadership Institute is the established mechanism for those who are interested to get the exposure they need to develop.
Graduates of the program have developed into leaders, innovators, and mentors.
We are just at the beginning and plan to provide a multi-tiered program for alumni of the program and current management staff. Until then the Alexander Leadership Institute reminds us that –
Alexander is not able to change the lives of kids without our staff.
Written by Emily Gordon.