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Learn to tap—and top off—your leadership potential

Spend a short amount of time at most any organization, and it won’t take long to spot the leaders.

“Leaders aren’t necessarily the ones with the title—they are the ones who inspire and take care of people in their organization,” says Yvonne Bryant Johnson, executive coach at Bryant & Associates and instructor for the High Potential Diverse Leaders program at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. “Not only do they have vision, they believe their team can accomplish that vision. They are strategic and innovative thinkers, and they model the behavior they want to see from others.”

Across the country, nonprofits are facing a moment of great uncertainty in terms of funding, public policy, and the prospects for accomplishing their work. At the same time, those challenges have created a perfect opportunity for new leaders, with inventive new ideas, to emerge and blaze fresh trails for the sector. But for every leader, there is a mentor, or mentors: People who’ve taught those leaders what to do and not to do, inspired them to take bold action, and given them a model for meeting their aspirations.

That’s why the Georgia Center for Nonprofits is once again convening its High Potential Diverse Leaders (HPDL) program. For six months beginning in April, the nonprofit leaders of tomorrow will be learning, from Johnson and others, how to lead with emotional intelligence, manage themselves and others, and fine-tune their leadership styles to fit the times and their teams. They’ll also be gaining a support network of peers who share principles, knowledge, and a common starting point for the next phase of their careers.

“I had two very clear takeaways,” said HPDL 2015 alumnus Shirley Anne Smith, now the executive director of Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation. “The first was learning that leadership is not a title, a position, or even a salary: It’s all about you. The second was how to work alongside all generations, and still be a leader.”

Smith will be speaking at the 2nd Annual HPDL House Party at Atlanta’s Wrecking Bar Brewpub on the evening of March 8, joined by April Reid, program manager at the Center for Black Women’s Wellness and a 2016 HPDL alumnus. Their discussion will highlight the valuable training and insights they gained from HPDL for an audience of prospective students and fellow alumni.

“Anyone who wants to learn, grow and be part of a dynamic group of professionals should consider being part of HPDL,” said Reid. “I learned so much! As leaders, we’re always in danger of getting too comfortable, but this course really reminds us that we have a lot of work to do— and the resources within us to get it done.”

David Terraso is the Communications Director at GCN. 

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