Touchstones Executive Leadership

Executive Leadership Programs

Touchstones has more than 20 years of proven work in developing leadership capacity and excellence. Our research and development includes projects with public and private organizations, individual executives, government leaders and agencies, and non-profits. Touchstones executive programs enable rising and established leaders to respond to the ever changing and evolving world.

WS4Today, leaders who collaborate rather than impose, listen rather than command, and share power rather than absorb it are positioned to guide and grow their organizations successfully. The organizational frameworks of the past–hierarchical and specialized–are increasingly anachronistic and counterproductive in a fluid social, technological, and globalized world. Current and emerging challenges that leaders face require a melding of professional perspectives and an ability to extrapolate creatively from models into entirely new visions. Effective management and optimal utilization of intellectual resources now demands greater cognitive risk-taking, collaboration, and creative thinking in problem solving.  These are the attitudes that Touchstones executive programs develop, nurture, and cultivate.

Touchstones creates custom programs to fit the most varied time frames. One-day workshops serve as introductions to Touchstones’ transformative approach to team-building, while three-day (or longer) sessions delve more deeply into personal and organizational strengths and weaknesses. Touchstones’ week-long programs and extended weekly sessions develop and reinforce a new model of collaborative leadership for individuals as well as organizations by providing regular practice that reinforces these new skills sets.

Each specifically tailored program builds on the unique four-stage Touchstones seminar model in which texts, process, and experience interpenetrate.


The Touchstones Discussion Project has run a number of executive seminar courses and programs over the last 30 years. Here we highlight some of Touchstones’ U.S. and international government and business leadership programs, which includes the Democratic Leadership Council; the National Security Agency and other government agencies; Leadership Metro Richmond; the Enhanced Public Service Leadership Programme (Office of the President of Tanzania); Hampden-Sydney College Executive Team; Baltimore City Police Department; Aspen Italia; The Aspen Institute; The Ministry of Education for Jordan; St. Mary’s College; Bureau of French Education for the Province of Manitoba, Canada; and the African Leadership Academy (South Africa).


SEAPPageIn August 2008, Touchstones launched a three-year project with the Tanzanian CEO Roundtable and the Office of the President of Tanzania to address the historical barriers existing between the private and public sector leaders. Two project managers from Accenture global partners division served in 2008 as the logistics coordinators and as co-evaluators with Touchstones Executive Director, while Touchstones Discussion Project Co-founder and President Howard Zeiderman developed the custom program and implementation scheme.

During 2008 and 2009, Touchstones executive team ran four weeks of Touchstones seminars with senior leaders in-country. George Yambesi, Permanent Secretary from the Office of the President, United Republic of Tanzania, speaks to the successful outcomes and the lasting effects of the participants’ work together in this Testimony of a Participant.

Read more about our efforts in Tanzania here and through Accenture Development Partnerships’ (ADP) program report. ADP provided logistical and in-country communications support as well as program documentation during the first stage of this program. Accenture: High performance through diversity


In 2003, twenty upper level managers at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland participated in a Mapping the Future Leadership Program. They came from a wide variety of backgrounds, skills, and home organizations. They included linguists, mathematicians, and security specialists. Their length of service ranged from seven to twenty-two years with several participants having at least a twenty-year tenure with the agency.

Topics that the sessions covered included “Experts and Expertise,” “Questions, Power and Authority,” “Public and Private Selves,” “Judging Others and Ourselves,” “Motives and Rationalization,” and “Community and the Individual.” NSA managers are experts in their particular areas. The program helped them to confront the ways in which their different paradigms may limit collaboration. In so doing, the participants came to see the limiting roles that their perceptions and backgrounds can play. As a result, they began to better understand and articulate their personal beliefs and to strengthen their core leadership skills.


Touchstones’ multi-year leadership program with the Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration, under then Director Ann Ferro, brought the department heads from all of the internal branches together to collaboratively refine and strengthen their approach to customer service. Through the program, managers established greater cooperation and communication with their counterparts, understanding better who to work with when addressing particular challenges and how to incorporate other perspectives into problem-solving.