From Bridgestar: 52 Free Leadership Development Opportunities

Did you see the downtown swarm of sensible shoe-clad librarians smiling and offering assistance to passersby? This week brought the Indiana Library Federation Annual Conference to Fort Wayne. In fact, librarians in the state of Indiana have ongoing professional development requirements.

What does that have to do with you? Professional development is a critical part of librarianship that helps the Center meet our mission to serve your information needs. Whether your particular field requires ongoing education or not, you absolutely need to find ways to build staff competencies.

The free ideas on this list from Bridgestar will hit home for so many of you looking to grow your own leadership. We know many of you are intentionally doing some of these – and that all of you are looking for ways to expand on your professional development offerings.

Check out the full list here  for more details.

Kirk Kramer, partner at The Bridgespan Group, led a session on organizational effectiveness at Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative (NEI) leadership program in October 2010. One of the topics discussed was nonprofit staff skill development, which surfaced many creative ways NEI participants offer on-the-job development opportunities to their employees for free. (See “On-the-Job Development Opportunities for Nonprofit Staff”)

The ideas on the Bridgestar list are split into several main categories – and these are only a few examples:

Team Leadership and Management

  • Manage junior staff
    Example:  Assume responsibility for the management and training of junior staff members and/or volunteers
  • Train and be an apprentice
    Example: Shadow a senior executive (perhaps monthly) to learn leadership and management activities through direct observation
    Example: Engage in “stretch” assignments that are out of usual scope of responsibility


  • Present at and organize meetings
    Example: Present status of team or division metrics at organization-wide meetings

External relations

  • Attend and present at meetings
    Example: Represent the organization in professional or community networks
  • Participate in other external activities
    Example: Serve on boards of other nonprofit organizations


  • Write proposals
  • Participate in fundraising events
    Example: Participate in a call with a major donor to learn the fundamentals of major gift solicitation
    Participate in internal fundraising meetings and provide input on strategy and tactics

Financial and business economics

  • Participate in budget-related activities
  • Training and apprenticeship
    Example: Shadow a finance analyst on a task or project to learn fiscal management process and skills

Project management

  • Organize initiatives

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