'Is True Leadership About Me or We?'
Feb 16, 2012
The following blog was submitted by Michelle Payn-Knoper of Cause Matters Corp., an ag advocate helping you to champion your cause.
Is True Leadership About Me or We?
Few are intuitive leaders, moving through life with the masses following them. Most of us have to learn leadership. It’s always an interesting journey in my work with agricultural advocates to watch them go from succeeding individually to bringing others along in the "agvocacy" journey. More than once I’ve had the conversation "This no longer about you, but the bigger picture. Your work is to now create more advocates like you."
Only the best become true leaders. Many get distracted by ego, politics and the latest bright shiny object. When I see leaders rising through the ranks, I start watching to see if they’ll be able to make the jump from "me" to "we." I have the great fortune as a professional speaker to witness many of these journeys; when people make the jump to the "we" of agriculture, it is my single greatest motivator.
Two ladies who farm in Oregon and North Dakota are great examples of this. Both have reached well beyond the "me" sphere and shaped the work of others giving voice to agriculture. I’ve known both of them for a few years and have watched their journey; it’s inspiring.
Marie Bowers is a spark plug. The woman makes things happen and I’m fairly certain she won’t take no for an answer. She didn’t think Oregon had enough of agriculture and natural resources people working in social media, so she created a workshop that pulled together 20+ natural resource organizations to learn social media and corralled others to help her. I had the chance to work with the group and was very excited about the level of discussion we had; there is no doubt that Marie laid miles of road to bringing others into the agvocacy arena. She does a great job herself; check out her Oregon Green blog.
When I first met Marie at a American Agri-Women workshop hosted by Syngenta, I was pretty certain she thought I was a little over the top. Now I know her real story; it’s so fun to watch her journey. She’s a new board member of the AgChat Foundation, chairs the weekly AgChat/FoodChat committee and will be the President for Oregon Women for Agriculture next year. Yet her titles have nothing to do with leadership; it’s all about her heart and ability to bring others to the cause. I do have to warn you though, she knows how to shoot a gun and isn’t afraid to use it.
Sarah Bedgar Wilson always has a smile on her face and a funny story to tell. I first met her in the Young Dairy Leaders Institute, where her skills stood out and she always had a million questions about the advocacy assignment. She’s now on her own mission as a speaker, a mom of three children under the age of five, a farm partner and in charge of the North Dakota Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers program. I don’t know how she does it all, but after being in North Dakota – I know she does – and with great accolades from others.
Sarah leads people to with her heart for the good of agriculture. She and her husband have some amazing experiences on their farm, but she’s never let that diminish her concern for the bigger picture of getting the story out there. She works constantly to reach out and develop human connections, whether through her blog, work, teaching children or just being Sarah. The smile is always there to brighten people’s day, which certainly helps humanize the world of farming.
The impact that both of these women are having on others as leaders makes it a privilege to work with them – and an honor to call them friend. More importantly, Sarah and Marie are a case study of what happens when agriculturists move from "me" to "we."
Are you taking steps in that direction to bring others to the cause?