letter from kansas leadership center president & CEO Ed o’malley

The Kansas Leadership Center turned 10 this year. We haven’t scheduled a party. I’m not that into celebrations. Just ask my wife. But I want to mark the occasion somehow; hence this column.

After 10 years, we still aren’t very good at explaining KLC. I know, I know. We need an elevator speech. We’ve had several over the years. None of them really works. Why? I think it’s because KLC doesn’t fit a mental model. When a friend starts a restaurant, we all have a mental model for that. When a friend becomes a consultant, we have a mental model for that, too. But a leadership center? What’s that? What does it do? Who is it for? How does it work?

While we are hard at work on our next elevator speech, I’ll simply share some numbers that convey the breadth and depth of KLC.

9,000 – The approximate total number of participants in KLC programs over the past decade.

6,500+ – total number of alumni (several come to more than one program, so the total participant number is larger).

289 – KLC Champions, who are key advocates for KLC programming in their communities and sectors.

220 – The approximate number of leadership programs KLC has put on since our founding.

97 – The percentage of participants who would recommend KLC programs to a friend or colleague.

96 – The number of counties with at least one KLC alum. We’ve yet to have participants from Doniphan, Edwards, Haskell, Jewell, Morton, Ness, Osborne, Stevens and Wallace counties.  We’re working on it!

80/80 – Our goal for our standard one-month follow-up survey (which helps us ensure we’re sufficiently aiding participants). We aim for an 80 percent response rate and 80 percent of respondents “strongly agreeing” or “agreeing” with this statement: “My KLC experience is helping me make progress on my leadership challenges.” We conduct a number of other evaluation efforts, but we think of the 80/80 as our immediate scorecard.

48 – Community leadership programs across the state that have engaged with KLC over the years. We view these local programs as the bedrock of community leadership development in Kansas and work hard to support them.

45, including the District of Columbia – The number of states represented by KLC alumni. (States not represented: Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota.)

45 – The staff, faculty, coach and contractor team that work for KLC. It is an amazing family. Several have moved on over the years, but we still think of them as part of the effort.

35 – Leadership Development Transformation Grant partners in 2017. KLC gives these grants to organizations interested in flooding their ranks with people trained by KLC. Interested in a grant for your organization? Contact Ashley at alongstaff@kansasleadershipcenter.org.

33 – The number of countries represented by KLC alumni.

30 – Companies and private organizations working with KLC for their own leadership development. The funding KLC receives from this custom work helps us issue even more Leadership Development Transformation Grants.

23 – Issues of The Journal that KLC has published. Chris Green (The Journal’s managing editor) and his team create The Journal to be chock full of stories of Kansans exercising the type of leadership we teach at KLC and stories about issues facing Kansas that need more leadership.

5 – Sectors we target for our program participants: government, nonprofit, education, faith and business. Our goal is to have 20 percent of participants from each sector.

5 – Principles of leadership that form the foundation of KLC curriculum: Leadership is an activity. Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere. It starts with you and must engage others. Your purpose must be clear. It’s risky.

4 – Competencies of leadership we’ve been teaching since our first program in 2008: Diagnose situation. Manage self. Intervene skillfully. Energize others.

3 – Number of core KLC programs. We’ve experimented with a number of program types over the years and have settled on a powerful mixture of three core programs. You Lead Now is our three-day deep dive introduction, offered monthly. Lead for Change is a flagship three-month experience, offered three times annually. Equip to Lead is our monthly opportunity
to learn and practice how we teach.

1 – KLC is still, to our knowledge, one of a kind. We’re the only statewide effort we’re aware of that is working with thousands of people annually and focused on leadership for the common good. Our friends at Leadership Victoria (Australia) come closest, and we’ve visited with dozens of other efforts around the United States and the world, hoping to help foster sister organizations elsewhere. As a proud Kansan, I love that people from around the world look to Kansas as the example.

The numbers don’t tell the whole picture, but I hope they convey the scope of KLC. They can’t convey the impact of amazing Kansans putting the ideas of KLC in action in their communities and organizations. That’s where the real magic
of the idea of KLC resides.


Ed O’Malley
president & CEO
kansas leadership center

This article was originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of The Journal, a publication of the Kansas Leadership Center. To learn more about KLC, visit http://kansasleadershipcenter.org. For a subscription to the printed edition of The Journal, visit klcjr.nl/amzsubscribe.

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