Leadership in today’s world requires courage in the face of chaotic change. Organizational leaders face daunting challenges working in an environment of constant uncertainty outside the organization coupled with changing expectations from people within the organization. This dynamic swirl around the leader can leave executives feeling isolated. While plenty of resources may be available to assist an executive with tactical and administrative questions, they often have nowhere to turn to answer the essential questions about their role as a LEADER.

The answer lies with other leaders. Often it is only other leaders who can relate to the world of the executive. Other leaders face similar conditions. And leaders working together to solve problems can be more creative that one executive working in solitary isolation. By conferring with other leaders, the successful executive finds time to work more “on” the business, not just “in” the business. And her growth as a leader accelerates as she learns how to advance her personal goals in tandem with her organization’s goals.

Lead for Change SPARC groups are designed to provide the safe space for leaders to grow and succeed in concert with other leaders like them. Specifically, SPARC executives:

  • Pursue a personal Leadership Action Plan with measurable results
  • Identify their own personal leadership style, tailored to their professional and personal context
  • Develop stronger leadership teams around them within their organization
  • Track key organizational goals that only the successful leader can achieve, and
  • Create a healthier balance in their lives between career, family and personal goals

The basic elements of SPARC are:

  • Monthly facilitated meetings with a cohort of 8 to 12 executives
  • Facilitated discussions of key issues brought by executives to the group
  • Monthly 90-minute coaching sessions with a Lead for Change consultant
  • Innovative ideas from outside experts who address issues common to the group
  • Periodic leadership retreats to catalyze new ideas and thinking

Each member of a SPARC group will engage in 4 to 6 hours of coaching and planning with Lead for Change prior to joining the group. This allows Lead for Change and the executive to form a personal three-year Leadership Action Plan. The executive will also learn about his personal leadership style based upon thinking and behavioral assessments administered by Lead for Change. Those plans and styles will form the basis of discussion in the early meetings of the SPARC group, and are used to determine the agendas for the first several meetings. Over time, the members of the group determine topics and focus areas for the monthly sessions, all of which are facilitated by Lead for Change.

Over the course of three years, SPARC members should be making progress on their individual Leadership Action Plans. To reinforce this commitment, the group will hold members responsible for key actions in their plan. This reinforces the value of the learning community and bonds group members together. Usually, the group continues meeting on an ongoing basis, forming new action plans as executives grow and change through their leadership journey.

The SPARC model is based upon research demonstrating the value of peer learning combined with regular coaching. A peer development circle is described in the literature as “a group of people sharing and critically interrogating their practice in an ongoing, reflective, collaborative, inclusive, learning-oriented, growth-promoting way.” Research suggests that peer learning is effective because “peers are a credible source of information, “peer education is empowering for those involved,” and “peers can reinforce learning through ongoing contact.”

In short SPARC groups eliminate the feeling of isolation experienced by so many executives and accelerate personal and professional growth to help people lead happier lives while making a positive difference in the world.