Orienting Thoughts

The intention of the LEAD project is to develop the capacity of all who are leading in the YMCA of Greater Vancouver to develop leadership in others.  It's a recognition that right at the heart of our work is the responsibility and challenge to develop others, equip others, mobilize others, and support others in order to advance the mission and expand our impact.  Here are a few orienting premises:

Our work is a consequence of us.

Authority and leadership are not the same.

People are the driving force of this work.

How we show up has reasons.

Growing is hard.

The story we tell ourselves is often just that.

Development happens along the way, but rarely without intention.

Identifying Your "Growing Edge"

In order to move our leadership capacity forward, each of us needs to identify what we will call a "growing edge."  This is the area of our own leadership where, if you were to develop yourself further, would release the most capacity to develop others.  It's usually not just a technical issue (for example, "figure out the accounting system") but rather an adaptive issue, an area that requires growth and development of our own approach to leadership development (for example, "becoming more strategic when guiding my staff")  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you identify your growing edge.  A growing edge is:

about you, not your team or the Y

not just a technical skill, but rather a capacity

not primarily about self-actualization


current challenge

requires you to grow

pushes you into a zone of stretch (and often into productive discomfort)

has implications for many areas 

Building Block A – Leadership Ethic

This is the first building block, and it has to do with the way we decide we will interact with others and approach the work of leadership.  It's one statement that begins with the phrase, "In all things," and defines who we want to be and how we want to "show up" in our roles regardless of what others think of us or how they might respond to us.  A good leadership ethic is characterized by three features:

                Immediate – something that can be accomplished at all times

                Sovereign – within your control, not depending on others

                Paramount – most important to keep you upright in times of stress, fatigue, and annoyance

Building Block B – Indicators of Progress

In order to evaluate and see progress, we next need to describe what would be indicators of progress.  In other words, if we were to grow and develop in this growing edge, how would we know?  How would others know?  Identify a few indicators of progress about what your leadership might look like 6-12 months from now if you were to develop as best as possible.  Make sure your indicators are characterized by the following:

                Meaningful – getting to the real challenge of your growing edge

                Observable – more of something, less of something, or a different kind of something

                Personal – related to your own growth as a leader

Building Block C – Vision for Impact

Of course, no effort is sustainable or meaningful unless it is accompanied by a corresponding "why."  Spend a few minutes writing what you want your unique impact is or should be on the lives and professions and performance of those you lead.  This will be one of the motivations and reasons for your attention to your personal leadership development.

                What is the difference you would like to make in those you lead?



1.       In order to identify your growing edge and get a vision for your own development, find someone who could give you a few minutes of feedback and guidance about you growing edge. This could be someone in a position to give you feedback (close enough to observe you) or guidance (far enough along in your same area of growing edge to provide insight or instruction) or both. Make yourself coachable (for example, design some steps forward based on what you hear, consider what is causing you to show up as you do, make some movement along your growing edge, even if it’s modest movement).

2.       Meet with your triad to debrief

3.       Check in with your supervisor about your growing edge

4.       Populate four sections on your canvas.  Three will be the building blocks  “vision for impact,” “indicators of progress,” “leadership ethic") and one will be the identification of your "growing edge."