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Developing Not-for-Profit Leaders in the UK and India

November 15, 2011

Two weeks ago, we hosted American Express Leadership Academy programs in London, England and Gurgaon, India. Both were designed to immerse emerging not-for-profit leaders in a series of leadership development exercises designed to polish their personal, business and leadership skills in ways that are needed to run successful not-for-profit organizations in today's highly complex and competitive environments.

Participants in each of the Academy programs conducted 360 degree assessments within their organizations before coming to the Academy, and they each spent time with executive coaches during the week in order to explore the results of those assessments in some depth. The participants also heard from a variety of speakers and interacted with numerous not-for-profit and business leaders who served as advisors to various group activities. Both week-long programs were facilitated by one of our partner organizations, Common Purpose.

The London Academy included 25 participants from nine organizations, including Action on Hearing Loss, Albion in the Community, Aldridge Foundation, Centrepoint, FareShare, International Rescue Committee, Rethink and Save the Children.

One of the speakers in London was American Express country manager, Raymond Joabar. Raymond talked about "Leading Excellence in Customer Service" using some of the practices that the company uses to track, evaluate and improve our customer service to suggest that not-for-profit organizations could think about their interactions with their various constituencies in different ways.

Alistair Spalding, chief executive and artistic director of Sadler's Wells, a prominent arts organization in London, spoke about his ingredients for success as a leader of a not-for-profit organization: vision, communications and change. Deciding where you want to go, articulating that vision, and then keeping the change going over time. He suggested that real leaders always have to be thinking about the next big thing in order to keep moving forward.

Rita Clifton, chair of Interbrand, shared 10 attributes of a personal brand, including clarity, commitment, protection, responsiveness, authenticity, relevance, differentiation, consistency, presence and understanding. She asked the group, "How clear are you?" and "Are you consistent?" and she encouraged them to find their authenticity and stick with it. "Be your best self" became one of the mantras of the week.

The Gurgaon Academy included 25 participants from 12 organizations, including The Akanksha Foundation, Salaam Balak Trust, Deepalaya, Dignity Foundation, Udayan Care, Self-Employed Women's Association, Hamari Muskaan, The Naz Foundation Trust, Centre for Environmental Research and Education, Saath, Srijan and Mine Labour Protection Campaign.

Speakers in Gurgaon included American Express country manager, Sanjay Rishi; American Express executive vice president for corporate affairs and communications, Tom Schick; and Dr. Rukmini Banerji, a senior executive of Pratham, a not-for-profit organization that works to provide quality education for underprivileged children in India.

This week we are hosting a Leadership Academy in Washington, DC with 48 participants from a variety of educational organizations and veteran's affairs groups. The meeting is being facilitated by our partner organizations, the Center for Creative Leadership and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Today we are sponsoring the first ever White House Forum on Nonprofit Leadership convened by the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation and the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This day-long meeting will engage about 200 not-for-profit, government, foundation and business leaders in a discussion of ways to ensure that the nonprofit sector has the leadership necessary to drive the expansion of high-impact programs in the years to come.

I'll report back on these programs next week.

If you have a comment or question about these Leadership programs, please let me know by clicking here.


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