Core Competency: Leadership

Strong leadership is the backbone to any successful suicide prevention program. Project directors should have a sense of how to make lasting change in their communities. This requires an understanding of how other programs have been successful in the past. It is also important to be able to show the value of your work to key stakeholders so they will help champion your program’s efforts.

Elements of leadership include the following:

  • Developing and nurturing relationships. Take the time to develop positive and supportive relationships with partners and grant staff, and take steps to sustain these positive relationships throughout the life of the program. Strong leaders also ensure that partners and staff members feel they are making meaningful contributions to suicide prevention.
  • Training staff. As a project leader, it is important to train your staff in the necessary skills (e.g., grant management, data collection, coalition building, suicide prevention basics) to adequately perform their roles on the grant.
  • Setting goals and objectives. Strong leaders are guided by a clear vision of both the long-term goals of the program and the priority short-term goals and objectives that will further that vision and have the most impact.
  • Being prepared for staff transitions. Document key management information, tools, and resources to ensure a seamless transition during changes in staff. This includes planning for what will happen to the program should you leave your position (e.g., if you are promoted, relocate, or retire). Think through who might take on your roles and responsibilities. Mentor and train potential successors so they will be ready to take on those roles.

Core Competencies

  • You understand how to cultivate lasting change within the community.
  • You develop and sustain positive relationships with partners and staff.
  • You continuously work to cultivate shared responsibility and make sure that project staff are trained for their roles on the grant.
  • You have a vision for the future direction of the program and can prioritize the goals and objectives that will have the most impact.
  • You compile key project management knowledge, tools, and resources and make them accessible in the event of leadership turnover.
  • You have a plan in place for who will take on the project director’s role and responsibilities in the event of turnover.

How Your SPRC Prevention Specialist Can Help

Your Prevention Specialist can:

  • Assist you in thinking through how lasting change takes place in your community and what steps you can take to maximize your program’s success. This may include assessing your community’s readiness for the changes you would like to make and how to best communicate why your efforts are important and relevant.
  • Help clarify the messages you may want to convey to key decision makers and the data that can support those messages.
  • Provide research and resources that can help get grant staff up to speed in areas necessary for their jobs.
  • Help you clarify your goals and objectives and prioritize efforts that will have the most impact.
  • Assist you in thinking through a succession plan and what you might want to document to ensure a smooth transition if any program leadership turnover does occur.