About Our Approach


An innovative approach to leadership training and engagement that integrates organizational effectiveness, personal well-being, and sustainable service.


Anyone who has spent significant time working for a university, a not-for-profit or a foundation can tell you: working for the greater good can feel overwhelming and drain even the most dedicated professionals.

High Risk of Burnout

Indeed, individuals who work for and lead mission-driven organizations are so committed that they often overstretch their own capacity and are at high risk of burnout.

To remain energized and able to effectively inspire others, people working for positive organizational change and broader transformation need to learn the skills involved in feeding their own spark.

Performing at a Higher Level

We’ve found time and again that our workshops and retreats can help people not just refuel but learn how to recharge and stay charged… often coming out of our programs with a new spark and new energy …  often performing at a higher level and reporting that they are enjoying their work more than ever before.

We call it, “Energizing Change.” It is about energizing ourselves to be able to make the necessary changes in ourselves, our organization and the world and about working for change in ways that can really energize others as well.

What is Special About Our Approach to Leadership?

While other leadership training programs tend to focus on conveying technical skills, we take a different approach. We help your key leaders and teams establish the strongest possible personal foundation for effective leadership. Accordingly, we equip the people you are investing in with the skills, tool and practices they need to succeed in their work and thrive in their lives.

We’ve found that by helping individuals become more clear, self aware, and balanced in their own lives, they are much more effective at their job and, not surprisingly, a lot happier doing it.

Our Workshops Teach The Eight Essential Skills For Energizing Change™

♦ How to craft effective programs and creative, collaborative engagement strategies and lead with a sense of expansive possibility.

♦ How to think BIG enough to clearly articulate a compelling vision of success for the organization as a whole that can capture the imagination of staff, partners, funders and the public.

♦ How to then also set achievable, concrete objectives for your own work in the coming quarter to be able to create results which build momentum and a culture of possibility.

♦ How to develop practical strategies for moving from vision to action so you can spend more time on your true priorities and on the parts of your job that energize you the most, while working effectively towards clearly articulated outcomes.

♦ How to stay focused on what is truly important and what is enough to keep your life in balance.

♦ How to become clear and self aware and then make decisions about work and life in an intentional way through our Four Frames™ decision-making process.

♦ How to discover opportunities for personal growth in your leadership in situations where others would only find frustration.

♦ How to create a gratitude practice and story-building skills to keep calm and productive even when things heat up.

Alumni of our Energizing Change training program report that as a result of their work with us, they experience more joy and creativity in their work, spend a higher percentage of their time on their most important and satisfying work, take better care of themselves, and have a powerful set of tools and practices to nurture themselves and sustain their passion for a life in service.

We have trained and coached more than 50,000 changemakers around the world.

We focus on:

♦ Helping foundations create the greatest possible impact and return on their investment by working with their grantees and the other leaders and teams in whom they invest the most.

♦ Supporting the people involved in the leadership and engagement initiatives of universities, foundations, and social enterprises.

♦ Empowering experienced, emerging and aspiring leaders (especially college students) to build their capacity for leadership.

We enable mission-driven organizations to retain the best and brightest and get them to perform at their peak by cultivating their practices of sustainable leadership. Our approach equips organizations with tools to maximize creativity, openness, positivity and impact.

Quite simply, the organizations that flourish and thrive over time are those that help their key leaders and teams learn how to create balanced, energizing lives.

The Sparks Center
Igniting Leadership in Mission-Driven Organizations