Last Word: Strong Leadership Needed More Than Ever Today

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One of the most discussed topics today – regardless of the sector or business area – is leadership.  As the dynamics of our world change, the need for strong leadership is more critical than ever before.  With that need is the recognition that the leadership dynamic has changed significantly.  While some of the skills necessary to be a strong, effective leader are the same the list is continually evolving.

One area that is often ignored is the need to create a knowledge transfer between current and future leaders.  Leadership Cape Cod has, for 30 years, focused on the development of leadership skills by connecting current and future leaders to intimately discuss the issues, challenges and opportunities that exist today and to collectively work to find solutions for today and tomorrow.  

In 1992, a group of leaders built the Community Leadership Institute, commonly referred to as CLI, to connect current and future leaders.  In 2018, CLI was rebranded to Leadership Cape Cod or LCC to clearly identify the mission for stakeholders while creating additional leadership training opportunities.  The organization’s mission is simply stated as inspiring and developing a diverse cohort of leaders for the greater Cape Cod region with the goal of fostering an engaged, sustainable and inclusive community.

The Community Leadership Institute, which meets every other Thursday from January through June,  focuses on connecting current and future leaders to discuss eleven topics affecting life within the Cape region.  The topics include Leadership, Hospitality and Tourism, Economic Development, Healthcare, Education, Civic Engagement, Government, Social Services, Media, Environment and the Arts.  Additionally each class creates a session to focus on issues directly related to their unique interests.  Recent topics of this Customized Session include how to be an effective advocate, diversity and unmasking racism, and the balance between leadership and self-care.  Each session brings three to four leaders in that sector together to discuss their perspectives on leadership and to openly discuss their issues, challenges and opportunities.  Throughout the course of each session, class members have the opportunity to discuss the issues with the leaders in small groups and individually.  Along with participating in each session, class members are required to participate in a community service project focused on helping a regional nonprofit with their mission as part of a team.  The purpose of the community service project is to promote engagement in volunteerism and to increase the collaborative skills of each class member.

In assessing regional leadership needs through conversations and surveys of area leaders and other stakeholders LCC identified and built a leadership training program focusing on the Roles and Responsibilities of Nonprofit Board Members.  The program, which is offered in the Fall and Spring, focuses on the 10 main roles and responsibilities of nonprofit board members.  The principles are reinforced through role playing as the class is split into boards, with an elected board chair, to work through scenarios designed to challenge their leadership skills.  Additionally, LCC offers a board boot camp where sitting boards can work collaboratively to enhance their collective skills and to work to further the organization’s mission.  A second program moves the needle by focusing on governance, committee structure, bylaws and development.

One key area of discussion is board member selection and succession.  Most boards tend to ask friends or others whom they think would be a good add for publicity or funding reasons without considering what the board truly needs.  A skill assessment is critical to both board development and organization mission.  Board member selection is probably the most critical aspect of building a successful board. 

LCC’s newest initiative is a program called Take Your Seat.  It is designed to provide a forum to allow those interested in serving on a Town Committee or running for public office to understand what is involved, to understand the process in each municipality and to provide guidance and mentoring support as they move down the path to either volunteer or run for office.  As with Nonprofit boards, committees and public office are often held by a small group of individuals whose service is extremely valuable but as we move forward new ideas and ways to look at where we’ve been and where we’re going is needed.  The Take Your Seat initiative is designed to shepherd a new generation of individuals who will lead the Cape into the future and be prepared to assume their seat of responsibility.  

As we move into the coming months, our conversations will focus on the key issues, challenges and skills necessary for leaders to thrive and to take their organizations and communities to higher levels.  

Bob Cody is Executive Director of Leadership Cape Cod. Additional information on Leadership Cape Cod can be found at