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Eden Alternative Tip of the Week: Deepening the Leadership Bench for the Organization

In following Eden Alternative Principle 10: “Wise leadership is the lifeblood of any struggle against the three plagues. Fir it, there can be no substitute.” The Denali Center in Fairbanks, AK has a plan. They want to make sure they have a strong leadership legacy to keep their journey going. They will tell you that leadership succession planning is “just what they do and who they are.” The story began when they were noticing that their leaders were getting close to retiring.
 
They began thinking about who could fill these positions with a goal to help employee care partners grow and not just stifle in their positions. Each leader in the organization writes out what they do in their jobs, and a description of what they did to secure their position. They have created a bulletin board with all of these positions posted. In the center, they feature a leadership position each month. If an employee care partner finds a position they are interested in, they can job shadow the person who holds the position and see if it is a good fit. Then, the organization helps them acquire the education they need, e.g. growing from CNA to an RN or from a dietary aide to a dietary manager. Together, they develop a growth plan.
 
Another leadership growth tool they use is something called neighborhood book clubs. They began because of a communication challenge in an area for Elders living with dementia. The book club started with a title about Alzheimer’s disease. They handed out the books and asked for volunteers to read a chapter and then bring it to the following week’s meeting and present what they read. The team then discussed how the chapter related to what they do and how they can do better. It made a tremendous difference. It has since expanded to include journal articles, conference information, and other books that get shared with the team. Since then, other neighborhoods have adopted this practice too. As a result, they are doing a great job of growing informal leaders within their neighborhoods.
Submitted by Denali Center

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