WINSTON-SALEM – The Association of Leadership Programs (ALP), a national organization of community leadership programs, has presented its 2013 Excellence in Innovation award to Leadership Winston-Salem.Â Jo Ellen Carson, executive director, accepted the award at the association’s annual meeting in Arlington, VA.
Leadership Winston-Salem was selected based on a component of its Flagship Program curriculum called Action Learning projects. Since 2005, more than 60 Winston-Salem area agencies such as Goodwill Industries, Habitat for Humanity, Smart Start and Senior Services have benefitted from having small teams of Flagship Program participants learn about a dilemma facing the agency and then develop recommendations for how to solve it. Many of these agencies would not have resources to pay for professional guidance, so they appreciate the insights that the teams provide.
â€œLeadership Winston-Salem has existed for nearly 30 years, but the Action Learning projects were not part of the curriculum until eight years ago, explained Carson. The projects allow class participants to learn a lot about a local agency partner, but also they help individuals learn more about themselves as leaders and how they can use their skills to make a positive difference in the community.
To facilitate the action learning projects, each year about 50 Leadership Winston-Salem class members are divided into teams of six to eight people. Each team is assigned to work with an agency partner. Over several months, they meet with the agency partner, but also separately as a team, to explore ideas and strategies for how to solve a challenge that the agency faces. Participants learn to ask insightful questions and use reflective listening. At first, it’s tempting for team members to jump in and start brainstorming a solution before they fully understand the problem, Carson said. That’s why each team has a coach who attends some of their meetings. The coach helps them think about how they are interacting and approaching the problem-solving – individually and as a group. As a result, participants learn more about themselves as leaders while also gaining experience working with a diverse group of people to solve a problem, Carson added.
With a mission of educating, connecting and energizing leaders to serve and improve the community, the Leadership Winston-Salem Flagship Program is a nine-month experience with monthly sessions covering topics including healthcare, human relations, government, public safety, social services, community development, arts and education. For more information visit www.leadershipws.org.