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Internal Leadership Development:


Adaptive
leaders know that building the agency’s operational capacity to do the work of
protecting children is a critical dimension of their ability to lead. As
defined in the Introduction, operational capacity refers to both the internal
and external resources required to fuel the agency’s work. For example, in
terms of internal resources, does the staff have the needed skills and
knowledge to confront their environment and tasks? Does the staff understand
the mission and values of the agency and have the ability to communicate those
through their work with children and families? Does the agency, as a whole,
know the perceived value and quality of its work based on citizens’, clients’,
and families’ perceptions and experiences? All of this contributes to what is
collectively known as the internal capacity of the organization to do its work.


Note
the evaluation questions: does the staff have the needed skills and knowledge…;
does the staff understand the mission and values… and have the ability to
communicate those through their work…; does the agency, as a whole, know the
perceived value and quality of its work…? LCCS asked these questions and
answered, “Yes and no.” More specifically, for some staff, the
answers were, “Yes,” for others they were, “No,” and for
many the fact was that no one knew the answers. As for perceived value and
quality of agency work as perceived by others, everyone had opinions but no one
knew for sure.


An
important strategy for agency self-evaluation and other initiatives is to
develop a partnership with your local community college or area university.
Throughout the United States,
community colleges have decades of experience in responding to local workforce
needs, including leadership development. In 1997, LCCS began a partnership with
Lorain County Community College (LCCC) to evaluate and increase the level of
understanding and acceptance of the agency’s primary values and beliefs. LCCC
is unique among community colleges because it has a division, the Public Services
Institute (which contains a research unit), dedicated specifically to serving
the nonprofit and local government sectors through educational programming and
research. While your local college may not have a particular division dedicated
to local government partnerships, you can often access these types of services
through the business and industry divisions.


Early
in 1997, LCCS and PSI formed an educational partnership that became an integral
part of the agency’s reengineering and continuous improvement processes. After
initial discussions, PSI and LCCS concluded that the partnership would include
two components leading to enhanced internal operating capacity: staff
leadership development and a research-based continuous improvement information
process.





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