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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Developing NGO Leaders with TISS

By Philomena Rego

India has an estimated 1.2 million NGOs. They work with the poor, exploited, and disadvantaged populations. Many NGOs serve their constituents through developing their empowerment and skills. Their own employees on the other hand do not get much by way of training. On our immersion last year we met with over 50 NGOs who expressed the need for leadership development. NGOs work in difficult environments and cant't pay people as much as corporations. The lack of development and support reduces their ability to acquire and retain talent and impedes their impact in advancing their mission. This is a critical issue as many NGOs seek to deal with complex challenges and scale up operations to serve more people.

To address the needs of NGOs in India, CCL in collaboration with TISS -- a highly-regarded university in Mumbai focused on social work, HR and other human services professions -- has begun to create a leadership development program for senior NGO executives. TISS is doing impressive work to scale up education and skills development (more on TISS in a future post). We found that we saw a common need to build NGO capacity through leadership development.

To inform program design work, in August 2007, we did a three day demonstration program led by Karen Dyer with 25 participants from various NGOs from Mumbai. The program was based on the Center's assessment, challenge and support model. We used assessment instruments, experiential activities, and rounded it up with a deep debrief. Karen also facilitated a half-day leadership program for some 20 school principals.

The NGO program will couple hard and soft skills development and be offered by TISS. As second stage will be to offer the program through other deemed universities in India (and beyond), and develop parallel offerings for government administrators and SMEs.

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