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Your Leadership Puzzle (Part 2)


Every day we encounter a myriad of issues that can make leadership puzzling.  One of these is the pace of change.  The world is changing at a speed faster than humans have ever experienced before due largely to technological advances.  This fact alone makes our leadership foothold paramount to balancing the needs of the people & enterprise we serve.  Some of the same themes keep appearing.  The human skills we often don’t realize we’re utilizing.  Awareness is the key for those who’ve decided to focus on helping others.  Here are some ideas on the “C’s”…


Think about the best boss you ever had.  My bet is they never lost faith in you.  They gave you their best so you could be at your best.  Whatever their personal style, they knew how to connect with others in order to help develop their talents into strengths.  Figuring out our individual approach is critical.  Asking for meaningful feedback can be hard but taking it to heart proves even more difficult.  When are we at our best?  Remember the best you experienced & discover how you’re going to be the best.  Strive to be the best boss you ever had & your coaching will emerge!


It takes a lot of this to navigate today's work/life challenges.  The ability to truly embrace change with an open mind can be tough.  Great ideas have a shelf life & the things we are doing now started as great ideas once. Creating the environment to listen & accept new conceptual thoughts that challenge old ideas is the key to moving forward.  Deciding what to change and what continuity piece to keep helps avoid chaos.


A mentor of mine shared this thought:  When a coach/teacher stops being actively involved with a person’s development it’s not that they don’t care it’s just they realized the person has stopped caring.  There are many reasons for this of course.  This doesn’t mean the coach has given up on the individual.  There’s simply an engagement issue or they are ready for someone else to assist with meaningful growth.  They need a new challenge. Hook them up with their next great coach or opportunity.  Time will prove the value you had on their development.  Courageously caring for others is always worth the energy!


Everyone we come in contact with is struggling with something we know nothing about...unless we ask.  Displaying this trait will provide the glue to keep the team together.  For me, it’s slowing down to listen.  Listening as intently as we desire to share conveys kindness.  Seek first to understand then be understood.  Displaying a degree of gratitude also shows we appreciate their efforts.  Connecting what they’re good at to the work equals maximum engagement.  After all, we are human beings not human doings, right?


From a very early age our foundation for life is forged.  This is often referred to & described as our character.  This is where we must stand tough for what we truly believe in.  Discover & re-discover what it is we really value & model it in everything we do.  This will lead to what we’ll stand up for.  These intellectual differences are the true diversity we need to have patience to understand.  The perseverance to find mutual connection points leads to trust in any organization.

The farther away from “doing” we get in our careers the less relevant we become to the enterprise we serve.  Not being relevant can be scary because we tie so much of our worth to knowledge gained & accomplishments of yesterday.  For organizations to survive long after we’ve gone, creating & inspiring new leaders must be the goal.

"I can’t accept not trying!”   -Michael Jordan

Take some shots.  Missing a few along the way will teach you a ton & inspire others to do the same!

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The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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