Stepping up and living larger….
April 25, 2016, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Backseat drivers. The first to speak up and the last to get behind the wheel.


This year I took a risk, stepped out of my comfort zone and jumped into the driver’s seat. I’ve held leadership positions throughout the years but never felt fully at home.


Most of the time I fell into those positions because no one else would take them and I have a problem saying no if asked. Feeling the need to sharpen the axe a bit I decided to take advantage of an opportunity through the Montana Stockgrowers Association. They developed a new 12 month Leadership Series to help folks like myself prepare for a future in leadership positions. Securing a spot in the class was the easy part.


You’ve heard of the training programs where the students are broken down to be built back up in the desired model. Our program isn’t as intense as that but our leadership styles and philosophies are broken down, analyzed, digested, and finally crystallized into a model that is unique to each of us. Working through the program, there are plenty of aha moments; mine tend to be Duh! moments.


Teasing out my personal style, my strengths, and my weaknesses was not easy, nor was it comfortable. What I’m finding, though, is that I’ve known about these all along, hence the Duh! moments. I like to lead with humor, honesty and integrity, knowledge, practicality, all while helping others. Utilizing these strengths should help me be a better leader. Working with those talents will hopefully lead to more cohesion in my efforts. One of the great lines in class was “Trust of self comes first. Know yourself, then lead others.”


Acknowledging weaknesses is not pleasant. Looking at your strengths is a lot like fishing for compliments. Digging into your weak underbelly flat out sucks. As it turns out, I’m pretty much terrible at empathic listening. I get so wrapped up in defending my position or decision that I fail to listen fully to the other side. I listen to defend, not to understand.


So what is the end game here? I feel that improved leadership skills can be utilized in many settings. At home on the ranch I can practice better communication. On the volunteer fire department as Assistant Chief I can be a stronger officer in difficult situations for our community. In the Montana Stockgrowers Association I can be a better voice for the needs of producers in the state. I have a ways to go but I’m headed in the right direction.


I want to be better. I want to be a driver.


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