By: Linda Scott, VP of Child & Family Solutions, JFCS, Phoeniz, AZ

I think I’ve been to the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ Senior Leadership Conference 12 years running. Wow! It’s hard to think that something could be so valuable that I’ve spent precious resources on it year after year after year. But quite honestly, this conference is the only long-lived constant in my bag of tricks for developing leadership skills in rising leaders and in myself.

As a result of the Senior Leadership Conference, I’m a better leader and so are those I’ve been able to bring with me. The list of reasons is long—I’ve deepened my knowledge of organizational leadership models and development, as well as public policy and strategy. This year’s tracks on advancing equity, leadership, financial health, workforce development, and strategy surely won’t disappoint. If that isn’t enough to drool over, a few days in a warm a city probably sounds like a tantalizing cure to stress and midwinter blues. This coming Feb. 16-19 the Senior Leadership Conference is returning to what has become my favorite place to enjoy this event—the soft white sands and sparkling gulf waters of Clearwater Beach Florida! 

My learning at SLC has inspired the way I now work in a few key ways:

  • Prioritize prioritizing! Prioritizing is brain-energy intensive, so I do that first thing in the morning
  • I do the heavy mental lifting in blocks of time
  • I schedule email time so that the morning download doesn’t distract me for the entire morning
  • Focusing on the desired solution instead of the problem puts me in a state of forward motion—of seeking and not of avoiding, which means more dopamine and fewer stress hormones

Engaging staff and reducing turnover is another area I’ve been very interested in and the Senior Leadership Conference has not disappointed! Even approaches that come innately don’t have much impact if not employed with intention. I am now very conscious about employing the following as I make decisions that impact staff and as I coach managers as they manage:

  • Attending to perceived status
  • Communicating to provide certainty whenever possible, even when outcomes are uncertain
  • Allowing as much autonomy as I can while working to provide support
  • Encouraging a sense of relatedness and teamwork
  • Attending to fairness even when people may not like a decision

Perhaps the takeaway from SLC with the farthest-reaching impact has been the establishment of Jewish Family & Children’s Service’s leadership academy. This idea was born out of workshops at the conferences. We had access to workshops that talked about the aging workforce in our sector, and that put a spotlight on building leadership pipelines. There were presentations and conversations about a few organizations that had built internal leadership development programs and pathways. Unashamed to take someone else’s idea and run with it, we built our own leadership academy to meet our needs. Jewish Family & Children’s Service will soon launch its third cohort of 12 rising leaders who will embark on a 12-month blended learning experience designed to give supervisory, management, and leadership skills, and which culminates in the practical experience of implementing a project designed to benefit the organization as a whole. Learn more about the leadership academy by watching our 2017 Alliance Commitments Award video.

We are constantly confronted with change in systems, with new environmental influences, and with daily challenges. Being able to navigate all of this and be a good leader while developing others to lead for the future requires the best tools and resources for learning. Over and over again, the Alliance’ Senior Leadership Conference has been the best tool in my toolbox! 

Come! Join! You deserve the best! So, bring yourself and a team of rising leaders to Clearwater Beach in February. Use the Alliance’ Senior Leadership Conference for its intended purpose and reap the benefits for yourself, for your agency, and for the people you serve.