Developing Community Leadership: The Excel Approach

Editor's note
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EXperience in Community Enterprise and Leadership

Johanna Reed Adams
Community Leadership Development State Extension Specialist, Community Development Extension Program and Extension Assistant Professor, Department of Rural Sociology

Rapid and widespread change in the world is affecting our communities in dramatic and often unpredictable ways. Additionally, we are faced with continued challenges of nurturing and maintaining our communities, their people and structures. If communities are to create a high quality of life locally, and to compete successfully in the new global, social, political, and economic realities, they must invest in the development of their people. An important and basic part of this development is community education designed to build the capacities of people as involved citizens and effective leaders.

This manual introduces concepts and methods for organizing and implementing community leadership programs. The material may also be helpful in initiating other programs or activities that focus on community development and public policy formation.

This manual is written primarily for people with experience in leadership or community development. It assumes assistance will be obtained in developing specific content areas and presentations for the program.

The text is tabbed by topic:

  • Introducing the concept
  • Getting started
  • Steering committee
  • Purpose and goals
  • Budget
  • Planning and coordination
  • Developing the content
  • Fund development
  • Selection and recruiting
  • Publicity and public relations
  • Outcomes assessment
  • Sustainability
  • Facilitator
  • Resources and references
  • Notes

EXCEL's purpose is to increase the capacity of individuals and organizations or groups who can address community problems by mobilizing the human and social capital in the community to common purposes.

EXCEL programs benefit participants and communities by promoting personal growth and knowledge that increase self-efficacy and by increasing the number and capacity of the community's leader cadre.

Communities and individuals may use the manual on their own or seek consultation from MU Extension Regional Offices.


  • Personal growth and self-efficacy
  • Community commitment
  • Shared future and purpose
  • Community knowledge
  • Civic engagement


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