How organization leaders can make important changes while also developing the next generation of leaders.

Every organization has room to improve.  Most organization leaders know improvement is needed as well as how specifically they would like to evolve but do not have the time or energy to bring their clear ideas to fruition because they are short on leadership capacity.

There is almost always a great deal of untapped capacity right under their noses embodied in those in their organization who are itching for a way to make a difference and who are ready to step up and lead the way to making things better.

Action Committees are a great way to both develop future leaders and to implement needed change.  Below are listed key elements that if embraced will put Action Committees on track to success.

Formation: Called into existence by the Core Leadership Group and the Leadership Team to address a specific initiative or issue that cuts across conventional organizational boundaries, report on progress, present a result, and disband.

Purpose: involve personnel from all levels and across the organization in order to:

  • Get important work done that impacts and/or requires skills, knowledge, or resources beyond those of any one unit.
  • Provide a forum for people to work with each other who normally do not get to do so thereby building  a sense of organizational community.
  • Facilitate employees making a lasting contribution to the organization’s evolution in areas they see as important to increase their sense of impact on, importance to, pride in, ownership of, and loyalty to the organization.
  • Provide a forum and systematic way to identify, challenge, and develop future leaders.


  • Are assigned by Leadership Team thoughtfully in terms of who in their unit can do a good job and who will grow through the experience.
  • Collect and represent input from the field.
  • Develop and express their own views.
  • Show up to meetings (mentally and physically) having read advance material, thought about what will be covered, developed a point-of-view, and ready to engage.
  • Perform their assigned jobs fully and contribute up to 15 hours per pay-period of their own time to Action Committee work; hours beyond 15 additional hours per pay-period must be approved in advance.

Action Committee Leader:

  • Assigned by the Core Leadership Team; but not a Core Leadership Team member.
  • Develops, holds, maintains, and communicates the Action Committees Charter, approach, work plan, deliverables, budget, work assignments, and status towards completion.
  • Crystallizes the Action Committees context (or Change Framework) in terms of how things are today, why change is required, how things will be in the future, what needs to be done to get from today to the target and what will be hard about getting there.
  • Negotiates sunset provisions or what must happen in order for the committee to complete its work and disband by a specific point in time.
  • Prepares meeting POAD and sets their schedule.
  • Prepares and distributes advance material.
  • Leads discussion in the meeting ensuring that:
    • time is used efficiently,
    • all important points are covered,
    • all participants are heard
  • Records and distributes meeting records.
  • Drives to complete mission of committee efficiently and with quality results.
  • Reviews progress reports and presents completed work to the Leadership Team.
  • Ensures Action Committees are a forum in which organization leaders model
    • Meeting mechanics
      • Preparation,
      • Agenda formulation,
      • Meeting record,
      • Facilitation,
      • Leadership, and
    • Approach to collaborative problem solving and issue resolution.
    • Interpersonal communication skills (e.g., aggressive listening).
    • Target behaviors:
      • Work the point not the person
      • Stay mentally and physically present
      • Etc.
  • Sets meeting schedule so as not to be invasive of achieving performance goals for participants; e.g.; early or late in the day, off hours, even occasionally at night or over a weekend.

Core Leadership Team members:

  • Are ex officio on every committee and are informed of meetings so they can attend when desired and able.
  • Go out of their way to always attend some meetings but not to attend all of any one committee’s meetings.
  • Assigns at least two Leadership Team members on to every Action Committee.

Core Leadership Team and Leadership Team members:

  • Observe, impact, and push up the thinking and behavior of participants
  • Monitor themselves and each other so as to not dominate discussion, vie for visibility, or exert undue influence.
  • Promote broad participation and staff development.
  • Ensure that a good effort is made and a quality result is achieved.
  • Model behavior expected of all when they are not present.
  • Coach, counsel, and advise Action Committee Leaders before, during, and after meetings to improve their preparation, facilitation, effectiveness, and follow up.
  • Host (introduce, edify, and assist) the Action Committee Leader in reporting progress and presenting results to the Leadership Team.
  • Encourage and support participation on Action Committees by personnel from their organization.
  • Attend and engage in Action Committee Reviews to monitor progress, give guidance, and ensure quality results.


  • Assists the leaders with Committee and Review planning, preparation, and approach through to help with agenda and meeting records.
  • Ensures meeting ground rules are clear and consistently followed.
  • Warns those who fail to follow ground rules (e.g., dominates discussion, argumentative, etc.).
  • Provides private feedback and coaching to Action Committee Leader, Core Leadership Team and Leadership Team Members, and other participants who request it, to promote growth and improved effectiveness.
  • Participates in and contributes to fulfilling the Action Committee’s charter.

Example Action Committees

Example Action Committee Participation Guidelines

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