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APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

How do we Help Develop Rural Leadership?

Name of Leader:

Colin Holt

Names of Participants:

Katherine Boon, Val Saywell, Stephanie Andreata, Megan Connelly, Anne Cathkart, Rob Nielsen, Ingrid Christiansen, Karen George, John Barker

Main points of discussion

What is leadership? There are many different styles of leadership. Leaders have vision, pull people along, influence others, have confidence, accept change, are part of the community, may stand up front and may lead from behind.

“Tall Poppy” Syndrome, no wonder no one wants to be a leader.

Leadership is an internal feeling that responds to external influences. It is not just skill development.

Do we need a designated leader? Shared leadership by the group and within the group. However to share leadership takes effort, needs good relationships and trust.

We discussed how rural leadership was at a low point (everyone busy, don’t take responsibility, give the job to someone else), but it was changing through contact with community facilitators who have good skills and good processes. These facilitators are increasing the skills in the community, these being:

  • Conflict management
  • Inclusive practices (everyone has a say)
  • Flexibility of meeting processes (where, how etc)
  • Building relationships.
  • Recognising achievements.

We also talked about how extensionists have to change their leadership to match the stage of the group they work with. Targeted leadership for different groups and different stages of group development.

(How do we develop these skills in ourselves?? How do we develop leadership skills in the groups??)

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

  • Help extensionist get leadership skills and also give them/help them develop processes to help develop leadership within the groups they work.
  • Improve links with educational groups and teachers to assist in the development of leadership at a school age. Develop and leadership culture in young people.
  • Help organisations develop a succession plan of leadership.
  • All extensionists to value leadership. Make a purposeful choice not to be part of the Tall Poppy Syndrome.
  • Identify the motivation behind people/leaders and encourage involvement/leadership along those factors.
  • Identify and encourage potential leaders. Make avenues for them to become leaders (like getting them onto a committee). Mentor and give them confidence in leadership. (tell them they are doing a good job)
  • Help spread the leadership in groups/teams you work with.
  • Use extension processes to give ownership and promote leadership in groups.
  • Be clear about your objectives and have confidence in people taking leadership and making the right decisions.
  • Ask the group themselves how they might go about developing leadership within the group and then help them.

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