Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) address the difficult needs of children and families impacted by child abuse. Their Executive Directors may be physicians, social workers, lawyers and/or non-profit administrators. Some CACs are separate non-profit organizations; some are located within large social service agencies, hospitals, universities or District Attorney offices. CAC Executives often serve as liaisons to other agencies involved in abuse investigations: departments of human services, police departments, district attorneys, and medical and mental health professionals.
The role of the CAC Executive Directors is challenging. They need to inspire others while managing operations, often without the most up-to-date tools and skills. They do not always have sufficient support from partner agencies and advisory boards. They often have significant supervisory issues, such as learning how to delegate more effectively, communicating better and handling difficult staff situations.
We designed The Leadership Exchange and Coaching Project (LEC), part of our Executive Leadership Exchange methodology, to help them with these challenges. LEC is built on a powerful three-faceted approach:
- Professionally Facilitated Peer Consultation (peer support) — LEC provides these 300 leaders (different groups over several years), with a structured, confidential and monitored collegial forum to discuss their challenges.
- Organization Development Values and Practices (tools) — LEC provides cutting-edge information and skill development from the field of Organization Development.
- Individual Executive Coaching (leadership) — LEC provides skilled one-on-one coaching to support individual learning, translate theory into practice, and address important organizational goals.
The first LEC group began in 2004.
2022 Update: LEC 13 launched in July, 2021. With participants from across the country, LEC continues to have nationwide scope, reaching between 300 & 400 people in 2022.
- Defined expectations more clearly, and asked people to move their work up to their best level
- Delegated and empowered others to solve problems
- Connection with other directors is one of the best and most helpful parts of LEC because people can talk about confidential issues and get support
- Experienced leaders in the group help newer people understand some of the challenges
- Participants feel comfortable calling others in LEC for advice and validation
Tools and Strategies
- Participants pulled a wider team into the work of the organization
- They developed tools to forge common ground towards new solutions
- Directors have learned to facilitate meetings more effectively
- Participants are using Appreciative Inquiry in performance appraisal conversations, helping staff to focus on their accomplishments
About Identity as a leader
- They are recognizing their own effectiveness
- Participants report that they are consciously thinking about their leadership and how they influence and motivate others