Local leaders empower and inspire

Leadership comes in many styles. Leaders can be creative visionaries, supportive facilitators or clear-sighted commanders. But the most powerful legacy a leader can make is developing the capacity for leadership in others.

For the past four years the United Way of the Lower Mainland has partnered with Dr. Steve Patty and Dialogues in Action to offer a master’s-level course in developmental leadership. This Fellowship in Developmental Leadership brings together senior and executive leaders from across the Lower Mainland.

“Our aim is to build the capacity of leaders to develop leadership in others for an increased social impact throughout British Columbia,” says Dr. Patty.

This year, 17 non-profit leaders throughout the Lower Mainland took part in the program. Two United Way directors – Elaine Fung, Director of Philanthropy and Resource Development, and Nina Eckert, Director of Finance and Operations, are part of this year’s graduating cohort.

 “As a new director, I was looking for new ways to support my team members and to support their individual growth,” says Elaine. “Leadership Fellows provided a supportive, hands-on environment where we could identify challenges in our own leadership models and then produce action plans that helped get us to where we wanted to be.”

Elaine Fung (L) and Nina Eckert (R)

For Nina, the experiential structure of the course was a highlight.

“I had heard from colleagues about the program’s innovative approach to leadership development. Being consistently challenged allowed us to move beyond a theoretical model of leadership which fostered both professional and personal growth,” she says.

“It can be scary to put yourself out of your comfort zone, to constantly review and refine your own skill set. But it’s incredibly rewarding once completed.”

The individual and social impact of the program was another draw for both Elaine and Nina.

“Effective leadership is vitally important to every organization,” says Elaine. “A unique leadership course like this allows United Way and other charities to invest in professional development. This equips employees to train and empower colleagues, which supports and strengthens program implementation– all to the benefit of our overall community.”

“Knowing that United Way is helping develop leadership across the non-profit sector so that we can continue to initiate change in our communities is inspiring,” says Nina. “Championing our neighbourhoods and the people who call these places home is at the root of everything we do. Leadership Fellows provides momentum to this impact.”

United Way is also committed to helping local professionals integrate a powerful social purpose into their business. Learn more here.