L’Arche National Leadership Development Initiative
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L’Arche National Leadership Development Initiative Phase One Report. January, 2012. 1. Context and key findings from leadership development diagnostic. 2. Objectives and principles of a L'Arche Leadership Development initiative. 3. The L'Arche Servant Leadership model. 4.

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January 2012


  • Context and key findings from leadership development diagnostic


  • Objectives and principles of a L'Arche Leadership Development initiative


  • The L'Arche Servant Leadership model


  • Vision for Leadership Development at L'Arche


  • Implementation: 3-year roadmap, indicators of success, budget, staffing and approachto measurement




  • L’Arche provides a compelling model to society of servant leadership in action. Jean Vanier and L’Arche are being increasingly recognized as making an important contribution to those who live with intellectual disabilities and to Canadian society as a whole. For example, in 2006 the Globe & Mail focus on Canada’s Nation Builders named Jean Vanier and L’Arche in the area of public life. Vanier and L’Arche, through its 29 communities and 4 regional teams across Canada, offer a compelling, inspirational vision of servant leadership in action.

  • However, as L’Arche continues to grow, it will be challenged to systematically attract and develop the next generation of servant leaders. Already sizable, L’Arche in Canada is growing: L’Arche organizations in Canada require approximately 150 senior leaders at any given time, and new L’Arche programs are emerging across Canada. Training the current and next generation of leaders in L’Arche is the single most important issue that will affect the continued growth and stability of L’Arche in the future. It is the responsibility of L’Arche Canada to provide a continuity of leadership for the constituent parts of the L’Arche organization across Canada – yet L’Arche does not have a systematic approach to developing the next generation of servant leaders.

  • L’Arche is designing and will implement a National Leadership Development Initiative tonurture its vision and practice of servant-leadership. This strategy will ensure that leaders in L’Arche are steeped in the vision and practice of leadership essential to its organizational purpose. L’Arche exists to serve those who are most vulnerable in our society. L’Arche leaders must be unambiguous, capable, and confident in this purpose as they go about their work of leadership.

  • This document describes the objectives, vision, and implementation roadmap for this leadership development strategy.

Summary of diagnostic activities


Summary of diagnostic activities

  • Interviews were conducted and continue to be held with outside consultants that have worked with L’Arche in the past

  • Interviews were held with L’Arche people who were responsible for a previous internal program to train leaders

  • A preliminary list of capabilities/competencies were devised for the following roles and tested in subsequent surveys: assistant, house leader, homes and program coordinators, community leader and regional/vice regional coordinator

  • Two online surveys were distributed to L’Arche Canada personnel: a) SVP survey (a tool to measure an organizations value proposition and b) Competencies survey

  • 27 interviews were conducted with assistants, house leaders, coordinators of homes/programs, community leaders and regional coordinators. This information was used to augment the above mentioned surveys

  • Turnover rates in all roles were compiled and application trends were noted

  • A national Exit Interview Report (May 2009 - Thibeault) was analyzed

  • A working session with Community leaders on attracting, developing and retaining leaders in L’Arche was conducted (May, 2011)

  • A summary of formation and training sessions that exist at the local, regional and national levels in L’Arche Canada were reviewed (November 2010)

Key findings from leadership diagnostic at l arche


Key findings from leadership diagnostic at L’Arche

Tremendous strengths and exciting potential….

However, some building to do

  • Compelling model of servant leadership – not just an idea but a practice

  • L’Arche is able to attract sufficient numbers of assistants to fill needs year to year

  • >70% of L’Arche staff view their leaders as inspirational and good role models

  • L’Arche leaders believe in the mission and have a strong developmental orientation

  • People feel L’Arche could do more to attract and retain high-potential leaders

  • There is an opportunity to strengthen external awareness of L’Arche as a distinctive place to become a servant leader

  • L’Arche also has the opportunity to upgrade and make more consistent its people practices (recruiting, development, reviews, succession planning)

  • Some fear an erosion of values under pressure to deliver services efficiently

Objectives and principles of l arche leadership development initiative


Objectives and principles of L’Arche Leadership Development Initiative

Underlying principles

  • Leadership model grounded in L’Arche mission and values

  • Accordingly, not a hierarchical concept; goal is to deepen and broaden leadership within any role

  • The approach should be robust and based on best practices

  • Actions must be feasible and sustainable for L’Arche (cost, capability)

  • Initiative should include clear indicators of success so progress can be assessed

  • Development should be a continuous “field and forum” journey – not a one-time training event


  • Substantially improve the quality and capacity of Servant Leadership throughout L’Arche to enable the mission

  • Raise L’Arche external profile as distinctive in developing Servant Leadership – the place that young people want to go to learn to be servant leaders

L arche leadership model servant leadership


L’Arche leadership model: Servant Leadership

Serve the Community

Develop Leadership Characteristics

Deep Personal


The vision for how l arche will develop and become known for servant leadership


The vision for how L’Arche will develop and become known for Servant Leadership

Change theme


Key elements


  • Awareness among 18 to 25 year-olds of L’Arche as leadership development opportunity

  • 20% recruits are leadership high-potentials

  • L’Arche sought after: 2x applicant/accept ratio

  • Awareness building

  • Targeted recruiting at new sources

  • Recruiting profile and process, tied to leadership model


Leadership development system

  • L’Arche recognized as a distinctive place to develop as a servant leader

  • Integrated actions as set out below


Leadership review

  • People get feedback on how they are developing, consistent with L’Arche leadership model

  • Delivered in caring spirit; focus on call to be a servant leader

  • L’Arche “servant leadership” model by role

  • Standard criteria/template

  • Simple review process – 4 to 5 calls

  • Talent review across population within roles


Development program

  • Every person has a tailored development plan

  • Development plan template

  • Process to create/revise


  • People receive the coaching/training they need for the next stage of their development

  • L’Arche’s development program is a reason talented leaders come and stay

  • Everyone views leadership development as a core responsibility

  • Curriculum by role: multiple levels, tenure; based on leadership model; integrated with international and local programs

  • “Field and forum” approach, including coaching, classroom, Web-based

  • Delivered mostly by L’Arche leaders



  • People feel truly appreciated for who they are and recognized for their unique contributions

  • There is a spirit of joy and celebration in the development activities

  • Belonging and commitment to explore what it means to be recognized? What rewards people get from L’Arche as part of the “member value proposition”?



  • Hundreds of L’Arche Canada alumni who carry Servant Leadership into their new roles, and act as ambassadors for L’Arche

  • Alumni network

  • Alumni engagement plan/activities


Implementation overview


Implementation overview

Guiding principles of implementation

Overview of implementation

  • Shared ownership: everyone’s fingerprints are all over this; communal problem solving & co-constructing of design

  • Feasible and sustainable solution

  • Balance communal approach...with need to get it done

  • Joint envisioning of the future

  • Release outpouring of new constructive conversation

  • Conditions for self-organization flourish

  • Build off best practices, while discovering and appreciating the best of what is currently practiced

  • Ownership and commitment of leadership team, which governs process through monthly reviews

  • L’Arche Executive Sponsor who guides week-to-week

  • External hire with the right experience and cultural fit to lead the design and implementation of the new leadership development approach. Either

    • Seek a temporary leader who will apprentice a L’Arche person to manage the program over time

    • Seek a full-time person, but provide them with support in the near-term to integrate into L’Arche

  • Assignment of responsibility for individual workstreams and end products to 4-5 person teams representing a good mix of communities and experiences

  • Phased over three years, with heavy emphasis on quick prototyping and piloting, followed by refinement and community/regional roll out

3 year roadmap recruiting

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3


3-year roadmap – recruiting

  • Distribute initial “servant leadership” model to communities with basic interview questions

  • Go to 1-2 new sources

  • Seek/identify 5-10 high potentials

  • Reformulate recruiting message (toward end of year)

  • Design new approach

    • Sources – Canadian vs. International; alumni

    • Interview tools and process

    • Awareness building plans

  • Pilot new approach for several communities – sources, interviews, tools, and process (including cultivation)

  • Update website and other material

  • Refine and roll out

3 year roadmap leadership review

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3


3-year roadmap – leadership review

  • Reflect, discuss, develop and refine Servant Leadership model in regional councils and in local leadership teams

  • Develop role descriptions and benchmarks for all roles based on Servant Leadership

  • Develop tools, process for annual reviews (individual and collective)

  • Pilot in one community and refine

  • Develop a kit to integrate servant leadership into daily L’Arche life

  • Pilot roles and reviews in 3-5 communities, including collective review

  • Develop and pilot succession planning process

  • Evaluate at end of year

  • Refine and roll out

3 year roadmap development program

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3


3-year roadmap – development program

  • Create individual development plan template and review process

  • Identify appropriate software to track HR information (trainings, formations)

  • Assess existing curriculum against Servant Leadership model

  • Develop gameplan for revising curriculum, with prioritized waves of modules by role

  • Develop faculty plan

  • Build and pilot “Wave 1” modules

  • Build cadre of internal external (volunteer) faculty

  • Build and pilot “Wave 2” modules for all major roles (includes technical, managerial and character competencies; includes coaching, training, e-learning, fieldwork)

  • Build and pilot “Wave 3”

  • Evaluate modules

  • Build and pilot “Wave 4”

  • Evaluate modules

  • Refine and extend

3 year roadmap rewards and recognition

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3


3-year roadmap – rewards and recognition

  • After reviewing existing best practices, establish traditions and symbols that affirm, appreciate, and recognize the person and their contribution to the Mission of L’Arche at all levels, consistent with Servant Leadership

  • Develop a template at the national level of these traditions

  • Distribute this template to local communities and encourage local communities to share their best practices with national and across communities

  • Share these traditions with external people, organizations, donors, volunteers etc.

  • Refine and extend

3 year roadmap alumni

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3


3-year roadmap – alumni

  • Compile alumni database

  • Hold alumni reunions in communities across the country

  • Create an alumni information update and sharing page on the L’Arche Canada website

  • Profile an inspirational alum each quarter on the website and in the L’Arche annual report

  • Award and publicize a L’Arche Alumni Servant Leadership prize

  • Engage alumni as volunteer faculty in L’Arche leadership development programs

Proposed team over the next 12 24 months external expert apprentices internal leader

Steering Committee*

Executive Sponsor


Proposed team over the next 12-24 months – External expert apprentices internal leader

Time commitment/source


  • Guide and shape overall effort

  • Monthly reviews

  • L’Arche leadership, Canada Board

  • Provide week-to-week direction

  • 2-3 hours/week

Project Leader

  • Architect

  • Project Manager

  • Develops L’Arche project leader

  • Some staff work

  • 2-3days/wk

  • External contractor

  • Temporary (12-24 months)

L’Arche LD leader

  • Staff work

  • Project management support

  • Administration

  • Grows into long-term leader

  • Full-time position

  • Internal hire

  • Grows into long-term L’Arche leadership development person

Ad hoc advisors

Ad hoc L’Arche teams


Leadership Review

Develop-ment Program


Rewards and Recog-nition

  • Review/give input on tools/process

  • Lead/participate in pilots and roll out

  • Ad hoc committees to reflect on specific topics- time limited and not arduous

Measuring success
Measuring success

  • Achievement of the project milestones laid out in the workplan depicted on pages 10-14

    • Each workstream has specific deliverables for year 1, year 2, and year 3 that the project leaders will report progress on monthly to the Steering Committee

    • Any changes to the workplan will be agreed by the Steering Committee before being adopted

  • Achievement of specific outcomes listed on page 7 for each workstream. These need to be further refined by the project team in the first few months of the project in terms of both the numbers and the timing of achieving them, but will include metrics such as:

    • Recruitment: increase in applications to 2x current level; identification of 20% of applicants as “high potential” based on Servant Leadership criteria in interviews

    • Leadership development: achievement of target distribution of 20% of population as “exceed expectations” and 70% as “meets” on new leadership assessment criteria (we will be changing this nomenclature); Employee Value Proposition scores on “My skills are being developed” from 45% agree to 80% agree; X% of assistants and house leaders saying they would like to stay with L’Arche long term (benchmark to be determined); sustaining 80% of people agreeing “L’Arche leaders are inspiring”; succession planning process has 2 qualified candidates for every leadership position at any point

    • Recognition: scores on the question “People are recognized for their achievements” going from an average of 40% agree to 80%

    • Alumni: identified network of X% of alumni from past X years; X% of them active in speaking about L’Arche in their new positions and/or returning to teach a class or give a talk at L’Arche related to some aspect of Servant Leadership

      A scorecard with these outcome metrics will be developed and be reviewed semi-annually with the Steering Committee