Several of our Michigan State University Extension colleagues took part in a session of the North Central National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) workshop held in Chicago Jan. 23–26. The session, “Understanding Our Roles as Leaders,” was the first of four sessions scheduled for 2013 exploring leadership and facilitated by the University of Minnesota Extension.
NELD’s mission is “to build leaders in Cooperative Extension at all levels and provide them with the vision, courage, and tools to lead in a changing world.”
The program helps the participant to develop leadership skills on a personal level and then use those skills to improve the effectiveness of extension programming.
The first session, an intense introduction to leadership, included developing facilitation skills and techniques, and working on team and consensus building.
Each participant did a self-assessment of emotional intelligence, which evaluated the leadership style each feels most comfortable using. In times of stress, people default to this style. When facing a difficult situation, people are less likely to use the leadership style they tend to be weak in. The program concentrates on getting participants to strengthen the weak areas so they have a variety of strengths to use in various situations.
Each participant also developed a personal philosophy of leadership and a plan of work in the leadership field to learn and implement in the upcoming year.
Participant Kelley Hiemstra, MSU Extension District 4 coordinator, had this to say about the experience: “The first session of NELD was fantastic. I look forward to the entire program and I am sure that it will assist me in my leadership roles.”
Besides Kelley, other participants from MSU Extension included Extension educators Eileen Haraminac, Erin Lizotte, Kendra Moyses and Kendra Wills.
Each are assigned to core groups of four to continue the work between sessions and act as mentors and coaches to each other. Each group consists of Extension employees from North Central Region states.