Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM)

About This Program

Target Population: Middle managers who work in public and tribal child welfare systems and in private agencies under contract with a state or county child welfare agency

Program Overview

The LAMM curriculum, developed by the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI), is a training program for middle managers who work in public and tribal child welfare systems and in private agencies under contract with a state or county child welfare agency. This competency-based training curriculum is designed to prepare middle managers for the environment of constant change and equip them with new information, skills, and hands-on opportunities to apply practices and principles based on the NCWWI Leadership Model. Middle managers can have an essential role as leaders in the transformation of child welfare to become more adaptive, flexible, and collaborative by using skills to lead change, along with engage and develop the workforce.

The purpose of this curriculum is to prepare middle managers to lead meaningful change in their agency’s ability to serve vulnerable children, youth, and families.

The LAMM curriculum centers on a model of leadership and accompanying competencies. The online Introductory Module, which participants view prior to coming to the one-week residential program, describes the NCWWI Leadership Model. Trainers also present the Leadership Model during the on-site meeting and at the beginning of each module.

Program Goals

The goals of the Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM) are:

  • Develop leadership skills for sustainable systems change to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families through leadership competencies as defined by the NCWWI Leadership Framework
    • Build Collaboratives through Partnering, Political Savvy, and Influencing/Negotiating
    • Develop the Workforce through Developing Others, Team Building, Cultural Responsiveness, Leveraging Diversity, and Conflict Management
    • Lead Change through Creativity and Innovation, External Awareness, Flexibility, Strategic Thinking, and Vision
    • Lead for Results through Accountability, Capacity-Building, Service Orientation, Decisiveness, Entrepreneurship, Financial Management, Planning and Organizing, Problem Solving, and Technical Credibility
    • Develop fundamental competencies through Continuous Learning, Effective Communication, Initiative, Interpersonal Relations, Integrity, Resilience, Personal Leadership, and Social Responsibility
  • Apply these leadership skills through a personalized professional development plan, an agency change initiative, logic model, and action plan all initiated in LAMM and supported through coaching after training

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM).

Essential Components

The essential components of the Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM) include:

  • Preparation and pretraining coaching
    • The recommended group size for LAMM is no more than 35 managers and it is recommended to utilize three trainers throughout the LAMM training process.
    • Selection of a Change Initiative prior to or during the preparation period: The learner’s Change Initiative (a significant change, as determined by agency priorities, the middle manager is responsible for implementing) is the center of the entire LAMM experience. Applicants describe the Change Initiative on which they will focus during LAMM. Applying lessons learned to a concrete, real-world situation makes learning much more powerful in the long run, and increases the immediate value of the training for both the manager and their agency. The Change Initiative should involve the participant in a lead role, and state or tribal leadership should support the Change Initiative as a priority. Change Initiatives often include state or tribal priorities such as a strategic plan, a systems change plan, or a program improvement plan.
    • Online learning preparation (approximately 10 hours): Learners must prepare for LAMM in advance so they can enter the training (a) confident about all logistical arrangements and (b) conversant in the basic concepts of LAMM. Email and online preparation addresses these points and also includes a learner assessment related to the evaluation. Good preparation assures that learners are on a level playing field during the residential week. All materials are provided on the web site.
    • Coaching to support preparation (approximately 3-4 hours): Each participant receives one-on-one readiness coaching. Trainers/coaches schedule up two calls with each of the middle managers before the residential training to confirm their understanding of the Leadership Model and make sure the participant has a clear understanding of how they will incorporate the Change Initiative into the work ahead. Coaches are provided detailed instruction for this phase in the coaching manual (part of the curriculum material) and managers are instructed that the development of the change initiative will be part of the residential training and time after coaching.
    • Readiness coaching also:
      • Engages participants in a positive relationship and diminishes distracting concerns regarding travel or accommodations
      • Familiarizes participants with the training schedule and content
      • Sets a tone for the training that emphasizes reflection and critical thinking
      • Communicates the importance of the leadership agenda
  • Residential training and coaching
    • Selection of trainers: The LAMM curriculum is designed to be given in a learning environment which provides middle managers the motivation and support to take risks in pursuit of the technical and adaptive challenges of leading sustainable systems change. The curriculum recommends selecting experienced trainers with a sophisticated understanding of child welfare and child welfare management. Trainers who also provide coaching before, during, and after the residential LAMM are often better able to provide continuity with the LAMM content and build on existing relationships with LAMM participants.
    • Use of multiple training modalities: To support a range of adult learning styles, the LAMM curriculum is designed to be delivered through multiple training modalities. The LAMM curriculum includes lecture plans, large- and small-group dialogue and discussions guidelines, self-directed Learning Circles instructions, activities focused both on a shared Change Initiative example and application to individual Change Initiatives, role plays and other opportunities for skill practice, a Learning and Action Plan Journal for daily review and reflection, and guidelines for individual coaching. Each participant prepares for and delivers a presentation to a small group at the end of the week. Specifically, these multiple delivery modalities include the following:
      • Minimal lecture time, with built-in opportunities to contribute through large- and small-group discussions and feedback.
      • Activities that provide opportunity for learning by doing, sharing, and practicing new tools and strategies.
      • The Terry Jackson Fatherhood Change Initiative, a standardized case study used throughout the training as a template for learning, serves as the focus of one role play and several application exercises. The curriculum introduces the case study in the prework, and additional details are added throughout the training. Participants receive the full case study with the package of training materials included in the curriculum.
      • Learning Circles of six to eight participants created on the first day meet at the end of each day for 30-60 minutes. They are self-directed, and discussion questions are provided for groups that choose to use them (most circles follow their own line of inquiry and connection).
      • Participants construct Learning and Action Plan Journals with a brief review of the day’s content, providing for self-reflection and written observations. These journals are for participant use only.
      • Participants receive coaching during the residential LAMM by trainers and other professionals who are present. Participants may choose to focus on any of the training content they would like to explore more deeply and/or use coaching for further development of their individual Change Initiative. Small-group coaching is also available, particularly for state or tribal groups focused on the same initiative.
      • The Change Initiative presentation on the closing day is the “grand finale” of the training and offers skill practice in public speaking and engagement of stakeholders. Participants give a 10-minute briefing to fellow participants, followed by another 10 minutes for questions and strength-based feedback. Preparation of the presentation is an incremental process throughout the week and should reflect the impact of content on the development of the manager’s thinking and implementation plan.
      • The curriculum allows for a consistent pace for learning, coverage, and integration of the content when followed with fidelity.
      • The daily schedule is laid out by modules and each day’s curriculum includes ‘a schedule at a glance’:
        • The first evening focuses on Introductions and Overview of the week to come and the opportunity to get to know each other over a meal.
        • Day One (Module I) is focused on understanding leadership using the NCWWI Leadership Framework; Strengths Based Leadership; and Adaptive Leadership
        • Day Two (Module II) focuses on implementation framework; Developing a Vision, understanding the dynamics of change and developing strategies to address challenges
        • Day Three (Module III) introduces managers to Leading in Context or Building Collaboratives. Cultural humility, leveraging diversity and partnering with internal and external stakeholders content sets the scene of ecological mapping (for the group and individual change initiatives) and developing strategies for collaboration.
        • Day Four (Module IV & V) Continues with implementation planning focused on assessing and building an Organizational Culture of Results with identification and application of outcome measures, developing a logic model, and action plan. In addition, managers will identify the workforce challenges (to the change) and their professional challenges as leaders of change. During the evening, trainers remain available to coach and support each manager’s work on a presentation of the change initiative they are leading.
        • Day 5 (Module VI) Allows for presentations of change initiatives in small groups. The presentation structure provides the opportunity for peers to respond in strength based critique following each presentation. Each presenter assigns roles to others and names the goal of their presentation. Following the presentations leadership resilience and continuous learning are discussed and manager’s personal development plan is revised. The training concludes with an evaluation and an introduction to next steps which include ongoing communication strategies and access to web based materials and tools.
  • Posttraining coaching, Peer Network, and distance learning opportunities
    • LAMM coaching is a structured process in which a coach uses specific strategies to help middle managers become more skilled and effective leaders and better able to implement sustained change through self-awareness, assessment, and practice. Following the residential training, posttraining coaching supports the transfer of learning to the workplace. Posttraining coaching should be available to all LAMM participants. The participant establishes coaching goals and negotiates a schedule for calls with the coach. Typically, coaching is one hour a month by phone over a period of six months. A manual describing the LAMM coaching approach is available separately. LAMM is designed to contain the delivery of all three components in sequence.
    • Peer Networks contribute to transfer of learning and sustainable implementation. Organizations/jurisdictions are encouraged to develop intranet access for managers who have participated in LAMM. This should contribute to a strong peer network for exchange of ongoing learning and implementation strategies.
    • Web-based micro-learnings are available in support of LAMM curriculum. These micro-learnings are 2-5 minutes in length and can be used as reinforcers of previously delivered curriculum and as tools for managers who have not attended the LAMM. No cost access to the micro-learnings is on www.MyNCWWI.org.

Program Delivery

Recommended Intensity:

Preparation time period is typically scheduled 3-4 months prior to face-to–face training. Prep takes up to 13 hours, Face-to-face training is implemented over six days, Sunday evening through mid-day Friday and posttraining coaching is available for 6 months (1 hour per month).

Recommended Duration:

Approximately one year in all: Initial recruitment and selection of participants and dates begins 6 months prior to face-to-face training which allows for considered selection process, setting up location, individual scheduling, and prework.

Delivery Setting

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Public Child Welfare Agency (Dept. of Social Services, etc.)


Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM) includes a homework component:

The prework and ongoing implementation of change initiative are both done by middle managers at their agencies.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Resources include a hotel setting that provides lodging, meals, one large meeting room and two break out rooms for meals and small groups; 3 trainers, on-site logistics personnel (event planner) and program manager; A/V including projector and microphones as needed for tables and presenters and WI-FI for working on laptops (preferred); round tables; flip charts; etc. Curriculum includes specific description of equipment/tools needed for each module.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Master’s level social worker with comprehensive and successful history in child welfare. Credible LAMM trainers will have a working knowledge of the programs that address the needs of children, youth, and families, the workforce, stakeholders, funding, and political dynamics. They will have been in management or worked closely with managers. They will have been involved in systems change themselves and have an informed knowledge of the dynamics of systems change from a management perspective so that they can add examples from their own experience and listen sensitively to participants. . All need to model exceptional integration across concepts and behavior. The ability to become a team and be transparent and authentic with each other and with participants creates an incredible learning community.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Support is given through consultation and training services may be negotiated with current and past LAMM trainers.

Number of days/hours:


Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM).

Additional References

Antle, B., & Barbee, A. (2003). Training transfer: Variables that predict and maximize transfer. Louisville, KY: National Resource Center on Child Welfare Training & Evaluation, University of Louisville.

Aarons, G., Sommerfeld, D., Hecht, D., Silovsky, J., & Chaffin, M. (2009). The impact of evidence-based practice implementation and fidelity monitoring on staff turnover: Evidence for a protective effect. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(2), 270-280. doi:10.1037/a0013223

Butler Institute for Families. (2010). Western Workforce Project: Building a learning organization curriculum. Denver, CO: University of Denver.

Contact Information

Deborah M. Reed, M.S.W.
Agency/Affiliation: Portland State University, School of Social Work
Website: ncwwi.org/index.php/teams-services/leadership-academy-for-middle-managers
Phone: (503) 725-8098

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: April 2017

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2017

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: July 2017