There was a time when there were many opportunities to hone your skills as a community leader. School districts had boards, grain companies had advisory groups, and there were various committees that supported community activities.
Today, there are not nearly the opportunities that were once there to learn leadership skills. Add to that the fact that the issues many agricultural organizations are facing are global in nature, and there is a need to put a conscious effort into training future leaders.
SaskCanola has been offering the Learn to Lead conference for three years now. Tracy Broughton, policy and producer relations manager for SaskCanola, is in charge of organizing the conference. She says there are a number of criteria that they use when looking for participants, but it is not just to find people to run for the board of SaskCanola. (Story continues after audio.)
Broughton says that SaskCanola has evaluated the conference over the years to make sure it continues to provide benefits to the levy payers, but those benefits are seen in a wider context.
“I think originally the goal of the program was to provide some future leaders for our organization, but after we saw the success that came out of it we realized that the canola industry will be better as a whole if there’s better leaders on farms, in communities, and in the province,” she says.
There are a wide variety of topics covered at the conference. According to Broughton, “Some of the things on the agenda include governance, and decision making. We have a panel of peers, so we have brought in some directors from other organizations to talk about their experiences.” She adds that there is a stress management session and a communications session.
Taking the lead in anything can be a scary thing. Having some training and skills can certainly take some of the fear out of stepping forward and increase the odds of a more rewarding experience.