Becoming a Leader in Your Community

As populations in rural areas continue to shrink, we are facing a critical need for those still here to carry on with all the clubs, organizations, and groups that help make our communities vibrant. Also, with so much misinformation about our industry out in the media and online, reaching out to and educating consumers is more important than ever before. Leaders are in high demand.

It's often said that 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. Personally, I think that's true. And, having a mix of males and females in leadership roles within any group is always a good idea. Each gender brings different perspectives to the table, which will lead to a more robust discussion all around. Healthy dialogue is critical for any decision making process. But how do we get women in these leadership roles? Here are a few ideas.

Becoming a Leader: Take the First Step
In an AgStar video last December about family dynamics, my daughter-in-law Ahnna and I urged all new farm wives to become involved in your communities. Some people simply shudder at the thought. You don't have to chair a committee if that's not where you're comfortable. You can simply attend a meeting and offer to help. Schools, 4-H, girl scouts, a local fundraising event: everyone is begging for volunteers.

Your involvement can be frontline or backroom support. Whatever you are comfortable with. It irks me when a new member joins a group and someone thinks it's a good idea that they chair the next big event. That's like setting someone up to fail. Ease into the group. You'll enjoy it, feel more comfortable, and everyone will value your contributions too.

Now don't fall into the trap of thinking that leadership means only charging ahead at high speed! Remember that God gave us two ears and one mouth. That means we should listen twice as much as we speak. Being a leader with conscience is more effective than being a bulldozer. Know your abilities, what you like to do and what you don't do well. Being successful comes from doing things well from start to finish. If you won't finish a job, don't start it.

Benefits Abound to Help Your Community
Organizational involvement is great for helping you become acquainted with your neighbors and others in the community. This can be a great avenue for your ag-vocating efforts, another leadership skill desperately needed. You now have an audience to tell agriculture's story to, and remind them where their food, fiber and fuel comes from. Helping them understand you and your farming operation is always a win-win!

If you are married, there may be organizations that both you and your husband can join. This is really good for cultivating couple friends. My husband Dean and I developed some of the closest friends we have today through the booster club organization where our kids went to high school. We enjoyed the camaraderie of working together, helping the school succeed, and having a good time while we did it.

I encourage all of you to think about helping in your community. Be part of that 20 percent. There are many opportunities for you to learn and grow as a leader. It is very gratifying to give back. You will enjoy it and don't forget to teach your children to be involved as well. Leaders are in high demand.

 

Kaye Compart

Kaye is Vice Chairperson of the Board at AgStar. She is a self-employed swine seed stock operation farmer in Nicollet, Minnesota; and is the past president of the University of Minnesota College of Ag Alumni Board and past chairman of the Nicollet County Planning and Zoning Board.

 

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AgStar Financial Services is a cooperative, owned by our client-stockholders. As part of the Farm Credit System, we provide a broad range of financial services and business tools for agricultural and rural clients in Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, focusing on simple, practical solutions that meet our clients' needs. In addition to partnering with our clients, we serve as advocates, experts and advisors, helping farmers tap into the trends that matter and make the most of their farming operations.

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Comments

Lesa Elliott Clark - Monday, September 8, 2014 at 10:52:24 AM
Enjoyed and agree about ag-advocating.

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