Local Comprehensive Cancer Control Toolkit
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Quick Tips
  • Consider your coalition goals and needs
  • Gather the input of your members
  • Determine your capacity
  • Understand the political climate
  • Consider your stage of development
  • Develop a leadership transition plan
Tools & Resources
  • The Community Tool Box: Organizational Structure
  • Coalition Building Tips: Coalition Leadership

Establish a Leadership Structure

There are various types of leadership structures, and the structure you choose will depend on the dynamics of your coalition. Some coalitions institute a shared leadership platform in which a core group serves as a leadership team/steering committee or leadership is shared among members on a rotating basis. Others may hire paid staff, secure volunteers, or elect a chairperson or executive director to lead coalition efforts. In other instances, coalitions may elect a lead agency to serve as the coalition convener and ensure timely communication across members.

No right or wrong leadership structure exists. Choosing a structure will require you to determine what is in the best interest for your coalition. To determine the best structure for your coalition, consider your goals/needs, size, budget, members, political climate, and stage of development. For example, steering committees are good for building the infrastructure of the coalition, generating by-laws, and developing plans to acquire funding. An executive director, president, or coordinator can play multiple important roles in leading the coalition, including inspiring members, managing the day-to-day work, and making connections across members to leverage action. This type of position, however, must often be supported by salary or honorarium.

Whatever structure you choose, make sure it supports a leadership process that is efficient in leveraging personal commitment and resources across key stakeholders to support coalition efforts in alignment with a common vision. To be prepared for changes in leadership, develop a transition plan, so that your coalition can continue to operate smoothly in the event of change.

Explorative Questions

  • What do we want to accomplish as a coalition?
  • What do we need in order to accomplish our coalition goals?
  • What structure will best support us in meeting our needs in the current context?