Investing in Future Leaders: How It Works

Transform how your organization develops its emerging leaders

Does your organization have the talent it needs for the future?

See What You'll Do in the Program

Video about Investing in Future Leaders Program

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Who: Nonprofit leadership teams

Format: Online with structured team discussions and coaching support

Price per team: $15,000
(scholarships available)

Next session: JANUARY 2024; Deadline to enroll in the Spring cohorts has passed.

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Investing in Future Leaders Curriculum

Cohort-wide Project Kickoff

Project kickoff activities: Along with the other organizations in the program cohort, you will learn about the program goals and format, meet your coach and support team, and log into the learning platform. With your team, you will start conversations about why you are participating in the Investing in Future Leaders program, and you’ll discuss how you hope to change talent development at your organization. You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with other organizations in the cohort and hear from a past participant about their experience.

Post-kickoff assignment: You’ll complete the 5-minute module orienting you to the online platform and program resources.

Step 1: Identifying Core and Leadership Competencies

Individual learning and reflection: To prepare for the team discussion, you will reflect individually on your organization’s strategic priorities and equity goals, and you’ll consider how talent in your organization will need to change over time. You’ll learn about what competencies are, and then you’ll individually nominate the competencies that you think should be on your team’s starter list.

Leadership team discussion: As a team, you will identify a starter list of “core” and ‘leadership” competencies which reflect your values, equity goals and broader strategy. You will also decide how you will engage direct reports, broader staff, and stakeholders for input.

Step 2: Gather Input and Refine Competencies

Individual learning and reflection: To make the process of creating competencies more inclusive, you will gather input on the starter list of competencies from your direct reports or, if preferred, a wider group of staff members. You will also reflect individually on the competencies and their scaled definitions – and whether they reflect future leadership needs and align with your organizational values and priorities, including your equity goals.

Leadership team discussion: As a team, you will review input that you’ve gathered from your collective direct reports. You will also review your individual reflections in which you did a “gut check” of the competencies. With this information, you’ll agree on changes to the competencies and a process for revising the scaled definitions, if needed.

Step 3: Identifying Development Priorities

Individual learning and reflection: Prior to your team discussion, you will each learn about an asset-based approach to development planning that includes mitigating biases. You’ll take a holistic approach to identifying your own 2-3 development priorities. Then, you’ll reflect on the development of one of your direct reports, and meet with that person to support them in choosing development priorities.

Leadership team discussion: As a team, you’ll discuss your direct reports’ aspirations and development priorities. Together you’ll discuss highlights of the process so far, and consider whether improvements to the process or your competencies are needed.

Step 4: Begin Co-Creating 70/20/10 Development Plans

Individual learning and reflection: To prepare for the team discussion, you will learn about the 70/20/10 principle and see examples of development plans. Then, you’ll draft a 70/20/10 development plan for yourself, and reflect on any input you might have to the development plan of one direct report. You’ll meet with that direct report to help them refine their draft of their 70/20/10 plan.

Leadership team discussion: During your team meeting, you’ll share these draft plans with your team members and provide input and offer ideas to each other. You’ll also discuss barriers to development at your organization and brainstorm ways to address them.

To learn more about Bridgespan’s approach to professional development planning, check out our article, “How to Build Competency-Based Professional Development Plans.”

Step 5: Preparing for Implementation

Individual learning and reflection: Each team member will individually reflect on this experience, including highlights you want to preserve and amplify, as well as challenges experienced. You will also start thinking about the path forward – both at the individual level and the organizational level – and this will be an important input to the team discussion.

Leadership team discussion: As a team, you’ll reflect on the experience and discuss implications for continuing this work. You’ll also agree on individual and organizational next steps, including how to go through this process with any remaining direct reports.

How Your Team Will Engage In This Work

All members of your executive team will have key roles to play in this process:


  • Be team champion and cheerleader
  • Bring important content into team discussions
  • Model participation and engagement

Project lead

  • Act as team facilitator and “guide”
  • Plan key logistical details (scheduling, meeting location, prepare materials before team discussions, as necessary)
  • Surface and troubleshoot issues with the CEO/ED or Bridgespan

Team members

  • Complete individual modules and all pre-work
  • Attend and actively engage in team discussions
  • Wear both individual/department “hat” and leadership team “hat”

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Additional Information

Return to the main Investing in Future Leaders page

Learn more about our other Bridgespan Leadership Accelerator programs

Download an overview of the program to share with your team

Visit our FAQ page to get the answers to your questions

Reach out to us at [email protected] for more information