Impact of Community Leadership Programs on Work Performance and Community Engagement.


In 2007, the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) was established. One of its first actions was to conduct a listening tour of Kansans who were working for business, faith, non-profit, religious, and government organizations. The strongest message from those conversations was that more leadership was needed for communities and organizations to become healthier and more prosperous. Furthermore, a different kind of leadership was required to understand and address tough challenges.

This leadership gap spurred the creation of dozens of community leadership programs (CLPs) in Kansas, and more than 1000 such programs have formed across the United States over the past 30-40 years (Pautke 2018). CLPs vary in format, content, and scale. Traditionally, CLPs have aimed to generate awareness of local community challenges and build networks
for emerging leaders.
More recently, CLPs have focused primarily on a developmental approach that builds leadership skills. In the 1990s, the Kansas Community Leadership Institute (KCLI) started integrating a skill-building approach into its CLP curriculum (Wituk et al., 2003). Throughout this report, we label these two approaches as “generalist” and “KLC competencies.”
Until now, there is little evidence that describes the impact of CLPs, either on individual leadership behavior or on organizational and community outcomes. For individuals, organizations, and communities looking to invest in such programs, understanding the relationship between CLPs and their outcomes is valuable.

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This research project aimed to identify the impact of CLPs. We sought to answer the following question: If participants completed a CLP, would there be a change in their leadership behavior at work and involvement in their community? We focused our research on eight CLPs in Kansas. Of the eight CLPs, five focused primarily on KLC leadership competencies, and three on a generalist approach.


Employee leadership = Enhanced employee engagement

KLC competencies CLPs develop
new leadership skills for the workplace. While all CLP participants report using leadership behaviors at their workplace after a leadership training, KLC competencies CLPs develop a new set of leadership skills at significantly higher degrees. The new workplace leadership skills include empowering others, addressing problems in new ways, and enhancing self-awareness.

Leadership behaviors that KLC competencies CLPs develop more than generalist programs:

I am aware of my triggers.
47% (KLC) VS. 27% (GENERALIST)

I engage in situations that stretch me beyond my comfort zone.
35% (KLC) VS. 27% (GENERALIST)

I empower others to get work done.
46% (KLC) VS. 37% (GENERALIST)

I can gauge the energy around a challenge in my workplace.
36% (KLC) VS. 27% (GENERALIST)

I test different solutions to address a challenging issue.
26% (KLC) VS. 12% (GENERALIST)

Three Times as Likely to Serve in a Civic Role

Alumni of KLC based community leadership programs are three times as likely to serve their community in a civic role (e.g., board member, elected official, advisory group, committee member etc.). 41% of alumni from KLC competencies CLPs serve(d) in these roles. 22% of participants in generalist CLP programs are involved in these roles. This compares to 14% of Kansas who serve(d) in civic/community roles, (KS Civic Health Index, 2016)

Community Engagement Outcomes Increase

Participating in CLP programs significantly increases community engagement outcomes (e.g., political involvement, volunteering, civic participation, donations). Most significantly, there was a 37% increase
in aspiration to serve in an appointed or elected position for KLC competencies CLP participants versus a 29% increase in aspiration for generalist CLP participants.

    Confident to Lead a Group

    CLP alumni believe that they can successfully lead a group. Participants have an above average degree of confidence in their leadership efficacy – an ability to self-regulate stress and improve team performance.

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