Leadership Academy Implementation Guide

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Welcome to the Leadership Academy
Implementation Guide

The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) Leadership Academy is designed to build and support leadership skills critical for the success of child welfare program supervisors, managers and directors. The Leadership Academy’s Implementation Guide provides guidance to child welfare programs who wish to create, develop, and implement a Leadership Academy Program in their own jurisdictions, and integrating the academy into their existing training systems.

It is important to emphasize that the Leadership Academy program development and implementation process is an investment. The estimated timeframe to create, develop, and deliver this effective leadership development approach will take up to 18-20 months for full implementation. Additionally, NCWWI recommends that agencies develop an effective communication strategy designed to create awareness and prepare those who will be involved in the development and implementation process. This strategy provides agency leaders, supervisors, participants, and academy staff with information that fully explains this valuable leadership development program’s time commitment, activities, and expectations. This guide contains key tools and forms that can be utilized to assist and support the communication process.

This guide supports exploring, planning, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining the Academy. It is divided into six (6) sections: overview, planning, trainers and facilitators, coaching, participants, and self-assessments. Each section contains recommended downloadable templates, forms, and documents specific for each component area. Additionally, the classroom curricula and training materials are available in formats that allow programs to customize the content. This comprehensive guide offers:

  • An overview of the Leadership Academy components, principles, competencies and learning objectives
  • Steps to prepare for implementation, including timelines and needed resources
  • Access to the curriculum content
  • Materials for Training of Trainers and Training of Coaches
  • Lessons learned and suggested strategies for successful implementation
  • Evaluation and materials
  • 360º assessment materials
  • Examples to illustrate key concepts

If implemented as designed, learners who complete the Leadership Academy will become nimble leaders, able to identify and tackle both technical and adaptive challenges and to support their programs in achieving their full potential.

Overview Video

The following video provides an overview of the Leadership Academy and the investment that is needed to implement it.

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Leadership Academy Overview

Leaders guide and empower child welfare programs to achieve their mission of keeping children safe, steering families to permanency, and improving children’s well-being. “Leadership” happens when leaders engage in behaviors that collectively inspire, motivate, and direct the work of child welfare programs. These behaviors are articulated in a competency model of the knowledge and skills that collectively represent a leader’s efforts. The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute’s (NCWWI) Leadership Competency Framework (the Framework) provides a model to develop, guide, and evaluate leadership at all levels within a child welfare program.

Leadership Academy Structure

The Leadership Academy supports program leaders in developing the skills to sustain an equitable and positive organizational climate and facilitate sustainable change. Leadership Academy participants experience online and in-person or virtual learning opportunities accompanied by leadership development coaching. The modularized curriculum provides explanations and opportunities to apply concepts that reinforce the leadership fundamentals, along with the four quadrants of the NCWWI Leadership Framework. Each module includes:

      • Online module designed for supervisors, managers, and directors 
      • One day (6-hour) synchronous classroom training delivered in-person or virtually to role-specific cohorts of 10-25 supervisors, managers, and directors 

The Leadership Academy curriculum uses a problem-based, flipped classroom learning format. Leadership Academy participants will: 

      • Engage in various scenarios and situation-based activities designed to facilitate critical thinking  
      • Be encouraged to collaborate and promote team work  
      • Foster a safe holding environment  

Preparation Tools

Prior to participation in the Leadership Academy, learners will complete training preparation activities, including viewing three online foundation modules (Foundations of Leadership and Workforce Development Parts I and II), exploration of a Change Project aligned with agency workforce priorities, and engaging in two or three pre-training readiness coaching sessions. Additionally, at the discretion of the program, learners may be required to complete the following optional activities: 

Coaching Program

Throughout their training experience, Leadership Academy participants receive developmental coaching support from a Leadership Coach. The Leadership Academy Coaching Program integrates best-practice coaching competencies approved by the International Coach Federation (ICF) to help Leadership Academy participants engage in transfer of learning activities, ongoing leadership skill development, and guidance to support successful integration of their Change Projects. 

The coaching program consists of three coaching phases: Pre-training Readiness Coaching, Leadership Academy Coaching, and Post-Academy Coaching.   Coaches provide two to three training readiness sessions prior to the Academy; monthly, 45- 60-minute leadership development coaching sessions during the Academy delivery, in addition to 4-6 monthly coaching sessions at the completion of the modularized training delivery. 


Participation in the Leadership Academy provides supervisors, managers, and directors with an opportunity to become the leaders that they strive to be.  Child welfare leaders require special expertise and must learn to navigate through the “whitewater” and anticipate what is coming up next. Program leaders must recognize the importance of communicating a vision, charting a course for ongoing organizational development, and supporting a workforce training to improve outcomes. To that end, participation in the Leadership Academy grants leaders with the opportunity to develop skills to manage both aspects of leadership ‒ vision and reality ‒ and practice the resiliency to stand in the tension between the two. 

This guide builds on NCWWI’s experience implementing the Leadership Academy in multiple public child welfare agencies. The NCWWI Leadership Academy Cross-site Final Evaluation Report summarizes evaluation results from four public child welfare agencies and offers lessons learned and recommendations from Academy participants and key stakeholders to help promote Academy sustainability and future Academy implementation efforts.

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Planning and Action Steps


Many considerations go into an agency’s decision to deliver and integrate the Leadership Academy.  Action steps to build sustainability from the outset and support a successful Leadership Academy within your agency must include time for exploration and planning. Planning considerations include:

      • Creating a planning team
      • Identifying your overarching goal
      • Assessing agency capacity to implement and sustain
      • Creating a process for recruitment/selection of trainers, participants and coaches
      • Selecting self-assessments to be used to complement learning
      • Planning for evaluation

Please take a moment to walk through the notes in this high-level Leadership Academy Overview PowerPoint for additional context of the Leadership Academy as you continue your exploration and planning.


Agency capacity considerations to deliver the Leadership Academy include:

      • How can implementing the Leadership Academy support other agency initiatives and priorities? What are the current demands on workforce and the system?
      • What workforce resources are available to serve as trainers,  coaches, and IT support?
      • Is funding available to support the planning, delivery, and evaluation?
      • What supports and/or resources are necessary for participants to fully participate?
      • Is there executive level buy-in, engagement, and support?

Planning Team

The Planning Team will work to identify the overarching goal in implementing the Leadership Academy and will take the lead in tracking and implementing the various components. A Logic Model is a tool that can support the team’s work. It provides high-level visualization of your overarching goal, along with planning action steps, and outcomes of implementing the Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy Planning Timeline (Excel) and the Leadership Academy Logistics Timeline Template (Word) are two resources to guide your planning for the coaching, training and participant components. Dates in both of these timelines can be adjusted based on your schedule and planning.


Effective communication is not only informative, but helps to build trust and excitement in securing buy-in, active participation, and resources necessary for successful implementation and sustainability of the Academy.  Along with the Leadership Academy Logistics Timeline Template a communication plan is also a tremendously helpful tool in organizing and monitoring the efforts of the Planning Team.

The Planning Team will identify audiences for communication, how communication will be delivered, when, and with what frequency.  The message itself may be different based on the intended audience, i.e., seeking resources and support to implement; securing buy-in of executive-level; recruiting coaches or participants; etc. A communication plan can be used as an effective tool for targeting specific audiences and messages, i.e., coaching – why is the investment in developing a cadre of coaches valuable to your agency.

Delivery Method and Training Platform

The Leadership Academy is designed to be delivered virtually or in-person and specific training materials are available for each method.  If choosing a virtual delivery then the platform used will need considered thought.

      • What platform does the agency currently use?
      • Will additional technology training be required for trainers or participants?
      • What can the IT system of the agency support?

Two common media platforms used are Zoom and Microsoft Teams.  Suggestions for Zoom are embedded in the virtual trainer materials. Virtual Academy trainers may need to engage in their own learning to master the media platform and all its functionalities before delivering this learning experience.


The Leadership Academy recommends the use of assessments to facilitate leadership self-awareness and working with teams.  This Implementation Guide provides a detailed section on the 360º assessment which is recommended but not required and has costs associated.  This assessment is specific to the NCWWI Leadership Academy and Competency Framework.  For further information please contact the Leadership Academy Team. The StrengthsFinder assessment is recommended but is not required and has cost associated. Leadership Academy Discovery Tools provides alternative self-assessments for consideration.

Change Project

The Change Project is a critical tool for hands-on learning. Applying new learning to agency work is an essential element of adult learning. Change projects provide a structured way to do this. The use of change projects allows those trained to become increasingly comfortable with the process of change – a process they can use whenever they identify an area needing transformation. They also act as a vehicle for connecting the workforce to the agency’s mission and serve to surface the barriers to sustainable change in the jurisdiction’s infrastructure, communication gaps, and decision-making. Participants will develop a change project that they will work on throughout their time in the Leadership Academy with the approval of their supervisor and support from their Coach beginning in Training Readiness and continuing throughout the Leadership Academy and Post-Coaching.

Your jurisdiction will need to customize the instructions of the Change Project Worksheet to clarify the area of workforce focus and parameters for participants as they explore, plan, design and implement their Change Project.

What kinds of change projects have people worked on?

Change Project Examples

What does a completed change project worksheet look like?

Quan’s Change Project Worksheet

Engaging Youth with Opportunities Change Project Worksheet


Conducting an evaluation of your own organization’s implementation of the Academy can be beneficial for helping you: 1) understand its impact on leadership development for participants from your organization; 2) collect information that will allow you to better tailor the Academy to your organization’s needs; and 3) improve and more effectively replicate the Academy for subsequent participants.

The Leadership Academy Evaluation Guide provides an overview of evaluation activities and resources that you can use to evaluate your delivery of the Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy Pre-Training Survey and Leadership Academy Post-Training Survey are discussed at length in the guide.

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Trainer/Facilitator Selection

To deliver the Leadership Academy it is important to understand the design of the curriculum. The Academy is designed to be co-facilitated, whether delivery is in-person or virtual. For successful delivery of the Academy trainers should possess specific trainer competencies.

As you plan for the selection of trainers, consider your organization’s capacity to use internal trainers or potential resources if using external trainers, and how to best build sustainability to deliver the training to future cohorts. Ideally, all selected trainers (some jurisdictions may choose to use more than two trainers) would be present for delivery of each synchronous module to: 

            • enhance relationship building between trainers and between trainers and participants;
            • deepen their understanding of the Leadership Academy as a whole; and
            • enhance continuity of learning across modules, i.e., the ability to build on participant discussion from one module to the next. 

If time and capacity don’t allow for all trainers to be present for all modules, it is highly recommended that the lead trainer be present at all sessions for consistency and continuity.

Trainer/Facilitator Preparation

The trainer role during sessions will be to facilitate, coach, support, and reinforce the application of the leadership concepts and topics initially introduced to participants during the online modules. Once trainers are selected it is helpful to conduct a Trainer Leadership Academy Orientation as an overview of all components of the Leadership Academy and to provide a Trainer’s Planning and Implementation Timeline.

The Leadership Academy Curriculum Walk Thru should include trainers/facilitators and it is recommended to include the coaches if at all possible. It is designed with the expectation that all trainer’s and coaches have reviewed all online modules and curriculum materials (specific to the delivery your jurisdiction is utilizing, virtual or in-person, as the synchronous sessions are slightly different between the two formats) to inform specific questions to be addressed in the walk thru. This provides maximum exposure to the Leadership Academy curriculum and deepens understanding and knowledge of concepts for both trainers and coaches.

To facilitate improvement of trainer preparation for subsequent cohorts, it is recommended to utilize a Trainer’s Orientation and TOT Curriculum Walk Through Survey to better tailor training and support for your agency’s needs.


*As part of the preparation tools, we recommend completing the StrengthsFinders Assessment for enhancing participant self-awareness.  This is not required, but some activities in Module 1, Fundamentals of Leadership, build on this assessment. If your jurisdiction does not have the capacity to purchase StrengthsFinders or opts for an alternate assessment, some customization in the trainer curriculum materials will need to be made. One example of how to customize is included for a jurisdiction that utilized Predictive Index in Fundamentals of Leadership using a virtual format Leadership Academy delivery.  

When using a virtual platform to deliver the Leadership Academy, keep in mind that facilitating skill development in a virtual space is different, as well as the level of engagement the trainer must maintain to maximize interest and learning. When facilitating virtually, trainers need to engage in their own learning to master the platform and all its functionalities before delivering this learning experience.

Trainer/Facilitator Support Role

Ideally, a Lead Trainer will facilitate supporting of coaches throughout the Leadership Academy, including Training Readiness, Leadership Academy Coaching and Post-Coaching. This helps to create consistent communication between training and coaching support.  The Leadership Academy Coaching Guide is a highly beneficial tool in supporting coaches, as well as an important resource for the coaches.

It is best to schedule a monthly support call with coaches. Early on it is recommended for these to be a group call with all of the coaches to maximize group learning but may be rotated or supplemented with individual support calls as needed. Support calls with coaches follow the same continuum as used by coaches with Leadership Academy participants: more prescriptive and directive during Training Readiness support as reflected in the Training Readiness Support AgendasLeadership Academy Coaching and Post-Coaching are less directive and more facilitative in nature and can cover a variety of topics, issues and successes as reflected in the Monthly Support Topics for Leadership Academy Coaching and Post-Coaching.

It is important to keep in mind confidentiality when supporting coaches in a group setting. If using a platform like Zoom, coaches can send a private chat to the facilitator who can speak to the specific example or question from the coach generally, without revealing the identity of the participant; this allows for maximized opportunity for group learning. Alternatively, the facilitator may request questions be sent from coaches in advance of the support call to ensure confidentiality into the discussion. When needed, the facilitator should schedule a private session with the coach to speak more freely. 

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Coaching Program

Coaching provides a demonstrated and critical component to successfully implement the Leadership Academy.  

The Leadership Academy Coaching Program integrates best-practice coaching competencies approved by the International Coach Federation (ICF) to help Leadership Academy participants engage in transfer of learning activities, ongoing leadership skill development, and guidance to support the successful integration of their Change Projects.

The Leadership Academy Coaching Program is designed to coach the “whole” person so participants can get the most out of the Leadership Academy and become more effective leaders. The coach will encourage, support, and guide Leadership Academy participants to exercise leadership skills in a safe and nurturing environment. The Leadership Development Coach will assist the learner with the integration and application of the necessary skills required to advance positive systems change.

The Butler Institute’s Academy of Professional Coaching defines Developmental Coaching as: coaches the whole person; focuses on raising awareness of thoughts, assumptions, mindsets, beliefs, values and emotions that drive actions and behaviors; and focuses on the process and underlying aspects that influence behavior (values, beliefs, mindset), not just the outcome and skill development (which is performance coaching).

Throughout their training experience, Leadership Academy participants receive developmental coaching support from a Leadership Coach. The coaching program consists of three coaching phases: Training Readiness Coaching, Leadership Academy Coaching, and Post-Academy Coaching. Coaches provide one monthly, 45-60-minute leadership development coaching session in all three phases:  1) two-three Training Readiness sessions; 2) five sessions during the Academy delivery (one session for each module); and 3) four-six sessions at the completion of the synchronous and modularized training delivery. 

Key considerations to developing the coaching component include recruiting, training, matching, and supporting as outlined in the Coaching Planning and Delivery Timeline

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Careful consideration must be given to who you recruit as coaches and where your recruitment efforts will be focused: advertising to build within your program or department, or outside of your department.  Elements to prepare for recruitment and selection include coach description, coaching essentials, time commitment, an overview of the training and support that will be provided, and a Leadership Academy overview.

As you consider in-house capacity or available resources for external options take a moment to review The Leadership Academy Coaching Guide, section 2 which provides criteria for effective coaching essentials. Preparing to be a Leadership Academy Coach requires an initial investment of time.  Participation as a Leadership Coach will span over a period of approximately 9-12 months per coaching cohort, along with the additional initial investment of 3 months of foundational coaching training. 

With the investment by the agency in training and supporting coaches, as well as the preparation investment by the coaches themselves, it is suggested that during the recruitment and selection process, you consider the opportunity for the coach to potentially serve two Leadership Academy cohorts as an important component of your capacity building and sustainability discussion. 

A Coach Description will be beneficial for communication about the expectations and responsibilities of a coach as you engage in recruitment. Experience in some jurisdictions has focused heavily on internal resources, and others have included external resources through agency partnerships such as universities and other supporting departments like HR, Office of Diversity, etc.

You may find it more amenable to have a committee nominate and select a cadre of cohorts or your jurisdiction may decide to have potential coaches participate in an application process (sample application).

It is ideal to have one coach/one participant to help ensure the availability and capacity of the coach through all three phases of coaching since this responsibility is typically in addition to their regularly assigned workload.  Once all participants and coaches have been identified, thoughtful consideration will need to be given to decisions around matching the coach with the participant. Some things to consider include position within the agency, potential current or prior working relationship, individual characteristics, and styles, etc.  The aim here is to minimize any unnecessary barriers to establishing rapport and building the coaching relationship.

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Once coaches have been selected conduct a Leadership Academy Overview and Orientation to provide context and overview information about the Academy and their role as a coach. It is important to realize that initially there will be a heavy lift for the coaches in completing training and becoming familiar with the curriculum concepts and materials. The Leadership Academy Coaching Guide is a valuable resource for the coaches.  The Coaches Guide provides information on the purpose, definition, and rationale of coaching; includes coaching essentials; coaching tools; coaching resources for all three phases of coaching (readiness, academy, and post-coaching); and an appendix with case scenarios illustrating real coaching experiences. Familiarity with the Coaches Guide, as well as communication and ongoing support from the Lead Trainer providing the monthly support throughout all three phases, is critical in helping to facilitate the success of this significant component of the Leadership Academy.

Following the overview and orientation, coaches will participate in the Virtual Coaching Learning Program (VCLP) to learn the foundations of coaching. To provide effective coaching and support the transfer of learning from the Leadership Academy coaches need curriculum content knowledge, including: 

      • NCWWI Leadership Model
      • NCWWI Implementation Phases
      • Racial Equity, Inclusivity, and Biases
      • Adaptive Leadership
      • Strengths-Based Leadership
      • Daring Leadership
      • Transformational Leadership

Coaches are expected to view all curriculum materials including foundational modules and Leadership Academy modules along with participant and trainer synchronous materials. In addition to the overview of the Academy in the orientation and their own independent review of the material, it is recommended for coaches to participate in the TOT curriculum walk-through with Leadership Academy trainers to further their exposure to and understanding of the concepts. It is expected that additional opportunities to expand their familiarity and understanding will be available in the monthly coaches’ support sessions.

The VCLP is a 12-week foundational training program for coaches that supports skill building for coaching of Leadership Academy supervisors and managers. The VCLP curriculum is designed to be delivered virtually and co-facilitated by individuals who already have certification in coaching. 

After participating in the VCLP, participants will understand the foundations of coaching and how coaching can be incorporated into various settings. Participants will gain knowledge of how to engage and support their client(s), and numerous skills and techniques to utilize in their practice. 

The four modules of the VCLP examine the Being and Doing of coaching. Participants explore the mindset needed to lean into as a coach, as well as specific skills used to support the coachee’s growth and development. Participants have opportunities to do individual learning as well as collaborative learning with their colleagues. This virtual learning opportunity provides foundational knowledge and skills needed to support learning and development of the individuals you will coach. Each module contains four elements: (1) Pre-work, (2) Virtual Learning Session (materials include PowerPoint and Annotated Agenda), (3) Try-it exercises, and (4) a Triad practice group. Please contact the Leadership Academy Team to explore how NCWWI can support your agency’s implementation of the VCLP.

Module 1, Introduction, introduces coaching as a unique profession. By exploring the differences between coaching, consulting, and mentoring we will define what a coaching mindset is, as well as explore the principles and assumptions of coaching and how it is used to support an individual’s growth and self-awareness. 

 Module 2, Skills and Techniques of Coaching, focuses on the phases of a coaching conversation, dives deeper into the skills and techniques used when coaching, and explores how questions can evoke discovery, insight, and commitment or action.

Module 3, Incorporating the Coaching Mindset, explores how the different levels of listening influence our coaching and allow us to be present and flexible while coaching. Further, we will explore how values and beliefs create context for actions and behaviors.

Module 4, Gauging Growth, brings into focus how to use the coaching relationship to support goal development and achievement, while tapping into the coachee’s ideas, suggestions, and desired outcomes. The coach’s role in holding accountability will also be explored.

Module 5, Closing: This closing webinar brings everything together to conclude your learning journey.  

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Just as coaches support participants through all three phases of coaching:  Training Readiness, Leadership Academy Coaching, and Post-Academy Coaching; coaches are supported by the Lead Trainer monthly throughout this same time. As the participant progresses, the intent of the coaching shifts from preparing for the best use of Leadership Academy training to the application of Leadership Academy training in the workplace, and likewise, monthly support for coaches will look different in progression as well.

Monthly support sessions with coaches should begin at the conclusion of the Virtual Coaching Learning Program and prior to the onset of their Training Readiness sessions with participants. In this first monthly support session, coaches may need assistance with timelines and logistics. For example, coaches will need to send an Introductory and Welcome Email to their assigned participants a couple of weeks prior to the expected timeframe to schedule the first Training Readiness session. Coaches may have some concerns about participant resistance to coaching and Coaching: Working with Resistance is a 16-minute eLearning module that can be shared during the session and complemented through group discussion.

The level and type of support needed may vary from one coach to another based on their own skill level and/or any potential dynamics in working with their assigned participant. While support can be provided individually, it is beneficial to provide opportunities for group learning through the monthly support sessions and this will also minimize time demands placed on the person providing the support. 

With group support sessions, the confidentiality of participants is primary.  If monthly sessions are virtual, consider having coaches submit questions or issues through a private message so the facilitator of the support session can bring the issue to the discussion without anyone readily identifying the coach or participant. If sessions are in-person, then consider having participants submit issues to the facilitator in advance. It may be that in some circumstances support will need to be one-to-one to better address any specific concern(s).

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As you plan for sustainability and replication of the coaching component for the Leadership Academy to subsequent cohorts, it can be beneficial to complete evaluations of the training and support coaches receive using these tools:  Virtual Coaching Learning Program Survey and Coaches Orientation and Curriculum Walk Through Survey, and Coaches Monthly Support Survey.  This will allow you to better tailor training and support to your agency’s needs, improving preparation and implementation of the coaching component that is critical to the effectiveness of the Leadership Academy.

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The Leadership Academy supports program leaders in developing the skills to sustain an equitable and positive organizational climate and facilitate sustainable change. The Leadership Academy is designed to be delivered to cohorts who are in similar positions, i.e., Regional Directors, Managers, or Supervisors. Some considerations in deciding who will participate in the Leadership Academy:

  • Size of the cohort
  • Agency capacity to identify and train coaches
  • Virtual or in-person delivery and frequency/duration of module delivery
  • Budget concerns, i.e., travel expenses, per diem, location
  • Process of selection, i.e., nominated, application, appointed
  • Marketing and communication to facilitate buy-in, promote and inform
  • Current agency workforce priorities and implications for participant change projects
  • Needed supports to ensure time available for full participation in the Leadership Academy and designing/implementing change projects

Planning and delivery of the Leadership Academy to participants involves selection/notification/orientation, coaching, preparation tools, evaluations, and delivery of the Leadership Academy modules.

During your jurisdiction’s exploration and planning for the Leadership Academy consider whether participants will be selected, nominated, or asked to apply.  To generate interest and communicate what is involved in participating in the Leadership Academy, you may want to create an information Leadership Academy Flyer or even a short video if capacity and resources are available.

Once participants are selected send a Welcome Letter and conduct a Participant Leadership Academy Orientation as an overview of all components of the Leadership Academy.  It is recommended to review the Change Project Worksheet instructions and expectations for your jurisdiction during the orientation; as well as instructions for accessing Preparation Tools and Leadership Academy modules and participant materials.

If your jurisdiction is evaluating the Leadership Academy and planning to use a pre-/post-survey, please refer to the evaluation information found in the Planning Tab of this Implementation Guide.

Leadership Academy Preparation Tools

Prior to participation in the Leadership Academy, learners will complete preparation activities including:  

      • Viewing three online Foundation Modules (Foundations of Leadership and Workforce Development Parts I and II)
      • Exploration of Change Project aligned with agency workforce priorities

The Change Project is a critical tool for hands-on learning. Applying new learning to agency work is an essential element of adult learning. Change projects provide a structured way to do this. The use of change projects allows those trained to become increasingly comfortable with the process of change—a process they can use whenever they identify an area needing transformation. They also act as a vehicle for connecting the workforce to the agency’s mission and surfacing the barriers to sustainable change in the jurisdiction’s infrastructure, communication gaps, and decision-making. Participants will develop a change project, guided by the Change Project Worksheet, that they will work on throughout their time in the Leadership Academy with the approval of their supervisor and support from their Coach beginning in Training Readiness and continuing throughout the Leadership Academy and Post-Coaching.

Additionally, it recommended that participants complete a 360° Assessment and StrengthsFinder Assessment as part of their preparation tools. Both assessments have costs associated and other alternatives have been provided for consideration.  Please refer to the Self-Assessments Tab in this Implementation Guide for detailed information.

Leadership Academy Curriculum

Leadership Academy participants experience online and in-person or virtual learning opportunities accompanied by leadership development coaching. The modularized curriculum provides explanations and opportunities to apply concepts that reinforce the leadership fundamentals, along with the four quadrants of the NCWWI Leadership Framework (Change, Context, Results, and People).  Materials for the Academy consist of five online modules and corresponding in-person or virtual participant materials (materials are located in this guide under “Trainers and Facilitators”.

Leadership Academy Coaching Program 

Throughout their training experience, Leadership Academy participants receive developmental coaching support from a Leadership Coach to help participants engage in the transfer of learning activities, ongoing leadership skill development, and guidance to support the successful integration of their Change Projects.  The coaching program consists of three coaching phases: Training Readiness Coaching, Leadership Academy Coaching, and Post-Academy Coaching.  To learn more about the coaching component please refer to the Coaching Tab in this Implementation Guide.

Careful consideration should be given in matching coaches with participants, this is especially true when using internal staff as coaches.  The coaching relationship is a vital component of the Leadership Academy and any effort to minimize potential barriers from the outset is recommended.  To prepare participants to engage in the Leadership Academy Coaching this 3-minute video:  Coaching: What’s In It For Me? has been embedded in the Leadership Academy Participation Orientation.

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The stressful and ever-changing work of child welfare, in particular, requires skilled and adaptable leaders. “To be an effective leader means to deeply reflect on events that surround oneself that have reference to how you see your own behavior and actions influencing others. To reflect means to know oneself, to be consistent with one’s self, and to have a positive and strengths-based orientation toward one’s development and the development of others.”  Leveraging Effective Practice (Avolio, 2005). 

The Leadership Academy curriculum includes the use of two different assessments to expand participants’ self-awareness as a leader.  You will need to explore your agency’s capacity for implementing these two specific assessments as reflected in the Leadership Academy 360° Assessment and StrengthsFinders Assessment Planning and Delivery timeline.

360° Assessment

NCWWI evaluators developed a 360° assessment and the behaviors identified in the assessment are based on the NCWWI Leadership Competency Framework and reflect the core competencies necessary to be a successful child welfare leader.

The purpose of a 360° assessment is to provide leaders with information on their workplace performance through self-reflection and feedback from supervisors, colleagues, and staff who work closely with them.  This facilitates enhanced insight into how aligned they are with key constituents and provides avenues for leadership development and improvement. 

The 360° assessment is designed to: 

  1. Allow managers to reflect on their leadership behaviors along the dimensions that would be addressed in training
  2.  Enhance participants’ leadership development by highlighting areas they could focus on improving as they progressed through the training
  3. Move evaluation efforts beyond reliance on self-report measures of leadership knowledge and skills to gathering objective data from others, allowing for a more rigorous program evaluation

How results are transmitted, and what mechanisms are in place to support learning and assistance are important predictors of whether the 360° leads to continuous improvement efforts. Using the 360° Feedback Guidance for Coaches provided in the Coaching Guide, coaches ensure participants understand the feedback, process their feelings about the feedback, and consider areas for development. 

There are costs associated with administering the NCWWI specific 360° assessment.  The 360° assessment is complementary to the Leadership Academy and is recommended but not required.  Please contact the Leadership Academy Team if you are interested or seeking additional information. 

An alternative to administering the 360° assessment is the Leadership Self-Assessment included in the NCWWI Leadership Development Toolkit. This assessment is based on the NCWWI Leadership Competency Framework and reflects the core competencies to be a successful leader but this is strictly a self-assessment and does not include the opportunity for feedback from others. 

StrengthsFinders Assessment

Strengths Based Leadership asserts that individuals gain more when they build on their greatest talents rather than when they try to correct their weaknesses. “The path to great leadership starts with a deep understanding of the strengths you bring to the table.” Rath & Conchie, 2008, p 3 New York, NY: Gallup Press.  Enhancing one’s effectiveness as a leader involves the practice of investing in strengths. 

The Academy recommends the StrengthsFinders assessment and references this work in the curriculum.  Costs are associated with this assessment so while it is recommended it is not required. 

If your agency does not have the financial resources for the StrengthsFinders assessment you can utilize another alternative assessment, such as those provided in the Leadership Academy Discovery Tools, that provides opportunities to deepen self-awareness and informs reflection on the use of self as a leader in their decision-making and how their beliefs and behaviors impact others.