View the 2020-21 Class Schedule

The Academy for Excellence in Leadership program gives community banks the tools they need to create highly customizable leadership development maps for their future leaders. Here’s what makes our program unique:

During each year of the 3-year program, 8 one-hour webinars led by our team provide a forum for discussing key principles of leadership. Participants are required to listen to the live or recorded audio presentation. After each forum, they are also required to discuss the presentation with their guide: what they learned and what they will do about it, enforcing the process of learning to do, doing to become.

We believe leadership skills are best learned by doing. After each forum, participants will identify and accomplish one related goal in the next 30 days. We provide a list of potential goals and participants choose and tailor a goal to complete before the next forum.

The process of learning new principles and skills is almost always easier if accompanied by someone who has previously walked the same path. We ask banks to pair the participant with an experienced guide, a respected leader from within the bank, who will work with the participant through the three-year program to help them set and accomplish goals and assignments. We will provide training and materials to individuals selected to serve as guides.

Each year, participants complete a challenging (10+ hours) leadership project that will benefit the bank, satisfy one or more goal requirements, and allow individuals or teams of emerging leaders to further develop important skills. We will provide project advice, suggestions and examples, and guides will work closely with participants to ensure accountability and accomplishment of the desired objectives.

Participants and guides will have access to tools (including an online “members only” page) that will allow them to track progress on goals and projects throughout the year. We will provide a link so bank leadership can track progress for all participants.

For example, the first session will relate to time management. After the session, participants will choose a task to complete in the next 30 days that is related to that topic. Below is a file with a list of some suggested tasks that a participant could choose to complete before the next session.

View Task Template

Program participants have the option of attending our free annual conference in January. The conference provides a way for participants to network with peers, share insights and gain insights on both current and future bank issues so that they bring new energy, ideas, and best practices back to the bank. This year’s conference will be held January 28-29, 2021.


Tempe Mission Palms Hotel & Conference Center
60 E 5th Street, Tempe AZ 85281

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We are accepting registrations now for 2020-2021 class.
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Our bank has had a highly beneficial relationship with Cain Ellsworth for more than 25 years.  Every time that we have engaged Matt, Kevin or Julie for help thinking about our operation, we have been rewarded with a clearer picture for our future success.

Don D. Nolan, President/CEO, Rivers Edge Bank

We were challenged to look at our organization from different perspectives than we had before and resulted in four clear strategic initiatives that actively guided our actions in subsequent years.

Steve Fopma, President & CEO, Leighton State Bank