The approach was simple in that leadership isn’t a position but the process you go through to understand your stakeholders and their values, to gain buy in, adapt to change, and push your personal boundaries even when it’s uncomfortable. Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere, it’s not a title but an activity.  Our leadership class was a mini “system” or “incubator”. The problems, frustrations, and barriers we were facing were being housed in a smaller, contained version of what we see within our workplaces, board meetings, volunteer organizations, and our family and friends. Our “system” had tension, anxiety, and frustration . . . all of the things our worlds have. By utilizing the tools we were taught, we were able to move through challenges and make tough decisions.


During the five weeks we discussed stakeholder maps, determining purpose, building bridges across differing viewpoints & belief systems (factions) and understanding the stories others tell about us. We would work through a challenging project and utilize case in point where we took ourselves to the balcony, looked down, and realized what we had or had not accomplished. We discussed observations and tough interpretations and were challenged to experiment daily. We looked at adaptive vs. technical problems and realized many of us attempt to solve adaptive problems with technical solutions. It just doesn’t work when you’re dealing with culture and belief systems. I could go on and on about the curriculum and what I learned. Each individual took away something different, some more than others. This type of program is how we could invest in our staff and not just for those with a leadership title. The materials, leadership book, partnerships, and tools provided were wonderful and I’m going to continue to utilize them.

Ellsworth County Economic Development
114 1/2 N. Douglas Ave.
PO Box 321
Ellsworth, KS 67439