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Monday, December 1, 2014

Perspectives on Leadership - Paul Torkelson


We recently talked with Paul Torkelson about his leadership story. Paul is a representative in the Minnesota House of Representatives and an alum of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leaders program. Watch and listen about how knowing yourself can contribute to more effective leadership.



To hear more stories about how Minnesota leaders are doing great things for the state and their communities, visit our Perspectives on Leadership page.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Wishing everyone a happy, and safe, Thanksgiving among family, friends and community.

Photo source

Monday, November 24, 2014

Open position: Community Engagement Program Coordinator


Our friends at the Cannon River Watershed Project have an opening for a Community Engagement Program Coordinator position. If this is something you are interested in, check out the position announcement linked below.

Position Announcement - Community Engagement Coordinator.pdf

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Opportunity: 2014 Public Sector Innovation Seminar


Calling all public sector leaders:

Do you work to identify current and future community needs? Do you strive to work in innovative ways across boundaries to meet those needs? If so, consider attending the 2014 Public Sector Innovation Seminar.

Borins_S_sm.jpgHappening on Friday, December 5 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, participants will hear a keynote address from Dr. Sandford Borins, Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough, on guiding innovation in the public sector. The keynote is followed by three workshop sessions that will stimulate innovative thinking for developing solutions that will benefit Minnesota.

For the seminar schedule, additional information, and registration, visit http://z.umn.edu/2014hhhinnovation.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Learn: Listen, learn... then lead




Four-star general Stanley McChrystal shares what he learned about creating a shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets. Does this sound like your community or workplace? Watch to learn the lessons he has to share.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Opportunity: Rural Entrepreneurship / Engaging Partners in Youth Development


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Are you curious about how rural entrepreneurship can power the rural economy? Do you work with youth through 4-H and want to identify strategies to develop deeper bonds to their rural community?

The talented folks from the Center for Rural Studies at Sam Houston State University will be doing free presentations on these two topics on November 13, 2014. You can attend in-person in St. Paul or virtually via webinar.

For more information and a full description of both presentations, visit the registration page.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Go deeper with a Masters in Public Administration program


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Many alumni who have been through a leadership or civic engagement cohort with us are currently working in the public sector for counties, soil and watershed districts, or other publicly funded agencies.

If you are looking for an opportunity to deepen your career path, consider a Masters in Public Administration. Offered through the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, it is a program designed specifically for mid-career professionals that care about advancing the public good.

Learn more at their website: http://www.hhh.umn.edu/degrees/mpa/index.html

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Learn: Start with Why


As leaders, we often focus on how, when, and where things are done. However, we sometimes neglect why we do things. Check out this great video from Simon Sinek explaining what happens when we start with why.



Monday, October 6, 2014

Opportunity: Madeleine Albright, Former US Secretary of State


AlbrightOfficialHeadshot-Photocredit-PortraitbyTimothyGreenfieldSanders.jpg Want to hear how one woman has had success in public life? The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is hosting An Evening with Madeleine Albright, where participants will hear from the first woman in US history to hold the role of Secretary of State. The conversation will touch on leadership, politics, civic life, international affairs, and the rights of women and girls worldwide. Introductory remarks will be given by US Senator Amy Klobuchar.

WHEN: Thursday, October 16, 2014

WHERE: International Market Square, 275 Market Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405

COST: $95 per person

Registration for this event is now closed

Friday, September 26, 2014

University students available to help community groups


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The Community Assistantship Program (CAP) provides applied research assistance to community-based groups outside the Twin Cities Metro Area. The research and technical needs of community organizations are matched with the support of talented students. The idea is simple: get the resources of a great University working with communities to address the significant issues facing the people of Minnesota. CAP projects typically place students in a community defined and directed part time research assistantship for one semester or over the summer. Students are selected by and report to the community organization. Throughout the project students are supported by a community supervisor, faculty and community mentors.

Eligible organizations include community groups, organizations, and local governments in Greater Minnesota (plus outer suburbs in the Twin Cities) and projects that would serve the entire state. Many different types of projects can be funded. Visit http://www.cura.umn.edu/CAP for more info.

There is also a new fund to support CAP students working on Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) projects, the Mary Page Community-University Fund, is available beginning Spring of 2015. The Partnerships connect greater Minnesota communities to the University of Minnesota through projects in sustainable agriculture and local food, natural resources, tourism and resilient communities, and clean energy. There are five Regional Partnerships (Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest) and a statewide RSDP office.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss a project idea, please contact Jeff Corn (612-625-0744, jcorn@umn.edu).

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Opportunity: At Your Service Train-the-Trainer Event


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How does your community do at welcoming people to its businesses and amenities?

University of Minnesota Extension's Tourism Center provides At Your Service, a curriculum that individuals can bring back into their communities that provides customer service training, tips for effective interactions, and ideas for tailoring the content to your workforce.
  • When: Thursday, October 2, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Where: St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota
  • Cost: $459 - includes lunch and curriculum materials for you to deliver the workshop in your community or workplace
  • Register: Tourism center website


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Learn: Snow Cards Technique


We here in Leadership and Civic Engagement are in the process of creating some online videos of small tips and tools that can benefit anyone doing leadership or civic engagement work. We recently completed our first batch and would like to share them with you. This is the fifth video in an initial group of five. Check out our archives to see those that came before and thanks to those who have been checking them out each week!






If you have an additional 2 minutes to offer us some feedback on this video, we would appreciate it as we plan to create more online content that meets your needs.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Emotional intelligence: A pathway to self-understanding and improved leadership


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Registration is now open for the last offering in the 2014 Leadership Series.MLiepold.jpg The topic is Emotional intelligence: A pathway to self-understanding and improved leadership.

Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotions to understand others in an effective and meaningful way. It is a skill that can be developed and can result in effective relationships, interpersonal growth, and improved self-management - all essential aspects of being a leader!

Participants will take the first scientifically validated instrument to measure emotionally CRasmussen.jpgintelligent behavior, the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i 2.0®). Educators Catie Rasmussen and Mike Liepold will then provide participants with a deeper understanding of their core emotional intelligence skills and help create a plan to enhance those skills too.

The details:
  • When - Monday, November 24, 2014 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Where - Country Inn and Suites, 1900 Premier Drive, Mankato, MN 56001
  • Cost - The registration fee is $125. UMN Extension is subsidizing part of the cost for this event which typically would run more than $200.
There are only a limited number of seats available for this event, so register now. Registration closes November 10, 2014 or when all seats fill.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Learn: Decide How to Decide


We here in Leadership and Civic Engagement are in the process of creating some online videos of small tips and tools that can benefit anyone doing leadership or civic engagement work. We recently completed our first batch and would like to share them with you. This is the fourth video in an initial group of five. Check out our archives to see those that came before and come back each subsequent Tuesday to see another!




This video has an accompanying worksheet. You can access it here to print out and take notes as you watch.



If you have an additional 2 minutes to offer us some feedback on this video, we would appreciate it as we plan to create more online content that meets your needs.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Learn: Community Sector Wheel


We here in Leadership and Civic Engagement are in the process of creating some online videos of small tips and tools that can benefit anyone doing leadership or civic engagement work. We recently completed our first batch and would like to share them with you. This is the third video in an initial group of five. Check out our archives to see those that came before and come back each subsequent Tuesday to see another!




This video references the Community Sector Wheel. To get a larger version of the image, please view or download this file. CSWheel.pdf



If you have an additional 2 minutes to offer us some feedback on this video, we would appreciate it as we plan to create more online content that meets your needs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Learn: Recruiting Committee Members Positively and Personally


We here in Leadership and Civic Engagement are in the process of creating some online videos of small tips and tools that can benefit anyone doing leadership or civic engagement work. We recently completed our first batch and would like to share them with you. This is the second video in an initial group of five. Check out our archives to see those that came before and come back each subsequent Tuesday to see another!






If you have an additional 2 minutes to offer us some feedback on this video, we would appreciate it as we plan to create more online content that meets your needs.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Opportunity: Rural Leadership Demands


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How many people do we need to run our small towns? How many leaders are available? These simple, but related, questions are seldom asked. If your town is thinking these questions, consider registering for an upcoming webinar that will look at data surrounding these trends and the actions the data suggests towns should take.

Led by Extension Evaluation specialist Ben Winchester, Rural Leadership Demands is taking place on September 10, 2014 from noon to 1pm CST. Register here.

Photo used with permission from Andrew Filer

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Learn: Working Agreements


We here in Leadership and Civic Engagement are in the process of creating some online videos of small tips and tools that can benefit anyone doing leadership or civic engagement work. We recently completed our first batch and would like to share them with you. This is the first video in an initial group of five. Come back each subsequent Tuesday to see another!






We will be posting a series of these videos. If you have an additional 2 minutes to offer us some feedback on this video, we would appreciate it as we plan to create more online content that meets your needs.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Odds and ends: Connecting organizations with students and 2014 Farm Families


Sometimes we have so much news to share that posts could be overflowing. Odds and Ends is here to help by aggregating a few noteworthy items.




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If you have news that you'd like to share with other alumni, please email Eriks Dunens at dune0007@umn.edu

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Inspiration: Brain GAIN


Many people know the term "brain drain" but are you familiar with "brain gain?"

University of Minnesota Extension Research Fellow Ben Winchester has been examining the phenomenon of small towns seeing 30-49 year-olds and their families moving into rural communities. He recently recorded a presentation about brain gain - check it out to learn more. The video lasts an hour so treat it like a podcast and get ready for some strong food for thought.



Check out the Brain Gain website for even more information on the trend, resources for communities, the research backing it up, and how it has been covered in the news.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Leadership skills for engaging others

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The 2014 Leadership Series continues with an exciting offering made up of three webinars examining different aspects of engaging others.

Do people tune out of meetings? Does the group always head down the same path? Looking for ways to include new people and perspectives in your work? This offering, over three separate webinars, will provide insight into these common situations. In preparation, participants will be invited to watch a short,LHinz.jpg online presentation in the week before the live webinar. On that day, educators Lisa Hinz and Jody Horntvedt will lead conversations that invite participants to consider and apply the tools and tips to their real-life situations.

Webinars are offered on the second Friday of September, October, and November. Register for one, two, or all three. The cost for one webinar is $15. Sign up for all three and receive a $10 discount.
  • Questioning skills - Friday, September 12 - Lisa Hinz and Jody Horntvedt - It has been said that people move in the direction of their questions. This webinar addresses ways in which questions can serve as tools for leading groups. The webinar will share methods and techniques that can help promote involvement and engage people in reflection, decision-making and other group processes.
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  • So, you're leading the meeting. Now what? - Friday, October 10 - Lisa Hinz and Jody Horntvedt - Skills for leading a meeting can be taken for granted - we assume that when we show up, it will all just work out. And yet, we've all been to plenty of poorly run gatherings. Join this webinar to refresh and add to your skills for effective design and facilitation that engages others and gets results too!
  • Going beyond the usual suspects - Friday, November 14 - Jody Horntvedt - Involve new people and new perspectives in your work. In this webinar, we will share ideas for going beyond the usual suspects to recruit and engage a more diverse range of people and perspective from your community or organization. Not sure you need more diversity? Come share your ideas - we can all learn.


Register now! The deadline for September's webinar is August 29.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Odds and Ends: Want to work for Extension? and more


Sometimes we have so much news to share that posts could be overflowing. Odds and Ends is here to help by aggregating a few noteworthy items.




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Three bits of information to share, including two great opportunities and an informative read about how civic engagement can look and work in communities.
  • Interested in being a part of the work Extension does in Leadership and Civic Engagement education? We are looking to a hire an educator who would primarily serve the West Central part of Minnesota. If this is you or someone you know, please take a look at the full job posting.
  • Minnesota offers many great summer festivals and fairs across the state. One such event, Flom Farm Fest, is coming up next month. Located in Norman County, this is a great, weekend get-together with mudding, music, and even bed races this year! Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program alumni Christina and David Lien are a part of the effort to put it on, so go out and support them August 22-24. Track their Facebook page for more information.
  • Ever wonder what civic engagement looks like in practice? This article suggests how civic engagement done right can get people engaged and create better outcomes. Read it here.


Image from http://i186.photobucket.com/albums/x157/Naperdays2/bedrace_Kreger.jpg

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Opportunity: Bush Fellowship Program accepting soon


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Looking for a way to make things happen in your community? Consider applying to be a Bush Fellow.

The Bush Fellowship supports leaders in many ways as they work on becoming better leaders to make positives happen in their community.

There is a bunch of great information on the Bush Foundation site, so start thinking now of ways that you can improve yourself and your community. The application process opens on July 29 and closes September 11.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Inspiration: Everyday Leadership


Leadership doesn't always mean big, sweeping efforts that create sweeping change. This TED Talk by Drew Dudley, a Leadership Development coordinator at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, highlights the ways that all of us can lead everyday. Spend six minutes and get a little inspiration.




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bridging Brown County Alumni Event coming soon


Kudos to Bridging Brown County! They have organized an event for all of their alumni. If you are a BBC alum, check out the details below and come share in the fun!

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Educator Corner: Excellence and Flow


Educator corner is a feature on the blog that appears regularly. Each entry will feature 1 of the 9 Leadership and Civic Engagement educators from around the state providing space for their thoughts on what may be useful for leaders and followers practicing in their communities and organizations.



dstromme.jpgMy office window looks out on the high school athletic fields and being a former P.E. teacher and coach I find myself taking breaks from the computer at that window to gaze at the activity below. When I do, it's obvious to me when a student is in 'the zone', or what Hungarian positive psychologist and professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls "flow".

In experiencing flow, the student is absorbed in twisting her Lacrosse stick right and left, high and low until the perfect moment to propel the ball ever so slyly into the upper pocket of the goal. She is creatively using her skills to meet the challenge at hand. She is oblivious to what is going on around her on the field and if asked she would have no idea of the passage of time. The happiness she feels after this moment of flow comes from within.

Flow happens naturally. It is more apt to occur however, when you are engaged in a task that is intrinsically rewarding and one that offers high challenge and requires high skill. According to Csikszentmihalyi, it is the full immersion of flow that creates excellence in life.

What creates flow in your life? When do you exercise creativity? What do you get lost in? If you cannot think of many examples, then perhaps it's time you found more opportunities in which you too can experience flow.
Csikszentmihalyi states that to experience flow, the following conditions need to exist:
  • There must be clear goals for which to strive. These goals provide structure and direction.
  • There must be immediate feedback for you to adapt your efforts to maintain flow.
  • You must believe you possess the skills to address the perceived challenges of the activity. Not necessarily to conquer the entire task, but enough to contend with it and continue to make progress.
So tackle that editorial on community involvement that's been buzzing in your head. Get out that game of Scrabble and challenge Aunt Ellen, the family champion, to a grudge match. Dust off that sewing machine and make art kits for the local school. Paint a canvas, a bench, the local homeless shelter. The simple truth is that experiencing a little more flow will go a long way in your life and perhaps more importantly in the lives of those around you.

And luckily, you don't have to be a 15 year old high school Lacrosse player to make that happen.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. New York: Basic Books.

Denise Stromme, educator for Central Minnesota, works out of Extension's regional office in Brainerd.

Any use of this post must include credit to Denise Stromme. For questions, please contact Eriks Dunens, University of Minnesota Extension, at (612) 626-5943 or dune0007@umn.edu.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Registration opened for more 2014 Leadership Series events


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The 2014 Leadership Series has FOUR events coming up in June and registration is now open for each one. Click over to the 2014 Leadership Series page for more information and the registration links.

Three of the events are A different kind of conversation: ProAction Cafe. ProAction Cafe brings people together to work on creating solutions and action around real questions and issues. Conversations using the ProAction Cafe process tend to build support, cross-pollinate the best ideas, and lead to new insights. Participants will get to experience the process and learn how to facilitate it for others. They are happening across the state on the following dates:
  • Fergus Falls - June 10, 2014
  • Thief River Falls - June 11, 2014
  • Willmar - June 24, 2014
The fourth event is titled Motivation: Leading yourself and others. The workshop will demystify the factors that motivate ourselves and others. Register if you are looking to better understand what puts some pep in your step and also how you can create teams and environments that motivate others.
  • Duluth - June 18, 2014


Monday, April 14, 2014

Odds and Ends: Siehl Prize, Poetry, and Leadercast


Sometimes we have so much news to share that posts could be overflowing. Odds and Ends is here to help by aggregating a few noteworthy items.


Alumni of our leadership and civic engagement programs have been in the news lately:
  • Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program alumni Richard Magnusson (class of 2001) was awarded the Siehl Prize in production agriculture. Awarded annually by the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences, Magnusson was honored for his work to ensure the success of the grass seed industry and for developing consumer outlets to sell new crop varieties. Read the full story here.
  • Justin Watkins, alumni of the Southeast MN Water Quality Civic Engagement cohort, featured in a Star Tribune series about outdoor lifestyles. He discusses his love of fly angling, its connection to his work with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and poetry. Check it out.
Lastly, we wanted to let you know about upcoming Leadercast events throughout the state. Leadercast is a live, one-day event that simulcasts thought leaders speaking on the topic of leadership. This year's' speakers include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, author Malcolm Gladwell, and CEO of SAP AG Bill McDermott, among others. The simulcast takes place on May 9, 2014. If you are interested, use the interactive map to find a location near you where the event will be simulcast and contact information for the event.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Events set for the 2014 Leadership Series


Thumbnail image for 2014 Leadership Series Graphic.pngLooking for a leadership learning opportunity this year? Extension is proud to announce its 2014 Leadership Series. We are offering events across the state on a variety of topics that can benefit you, your work, and your community.

Click here to learn about the workshops and their dates and locations.

Registration is already open for our first event - a workshop on ProAction Cafe occurring in Brainerd on Friday, May 9, ProAction Cafe is a facilitation process that engages participants in creative, action-oriented conversations that build support, generate new ideas, and move projects through sticking points. Click here for more information on this event and to register.

We hope to see you this year at an event and to support your leadership learning and application!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Educator Corner: Leadership Benefits of Being Abroad


Educator corner is a feature on the blog that appears regularly. Each entry will feature 1 of the 9 Leadership and Civic Engagement educators from around the state providing space for their thoughts on what may be useful for leaders and followers practicing in their communities and organizations.



pcampion.jpgThe Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program (MARL), a partnership between Southwest Minnesota State University and University of Minnesota Extension, recently returned from a study trip to Ecuador. Watch this 5 minute video to hear an interview with educator Peter Campion as he shares about the trip and how it provided unique leadership learning opportunities.



Peter Campion, educator for West Central Minnesota, works out of Extension's regional office in Moorhead.



Monday, March 31, 2014

Opportunity: Small Community Innovation Grants available


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Sometimes the biggest community impacts come from the smallest projects. That's why the Bush Foundation has partnered with the Headwaters Foundation for Social Justice to provide a new type of Community Innovation grant.

Back in January we let you know about the initial announcement of grants ranging from $10,000 to $250,000. The new grants, available quarterly, will range from $500 to $10,000, so there are now funding opportunities for projects and ideas of all sizes!

To learn more and apply, check out this link: http://z.umn.edu/smallgrants

Image by Flickr user thinkpublic

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

U-Lead Advisory Academy Class Five Alumni practice and apply skills


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Last weekend, alumni from Class Five of the U-Lead Advisory Academy meet over two days in Itasca State Park. In addition to learning about the history of the headwaters of the Mississippi, participants reconnected with each other, practiced skills, and, most importantly, put them to use.

Alumna Mary Kay Delvo planned and facilitated a session to jump-start a non-profit of a fellow alum. Participants used their knowledge, experience, and connections to provide the non-profit with some actionable next-steps and suggestions of individuals and groups that can benefit the organization and its board.

Reflecting on the event and the group at the end of the two days, alum Scott Peterson shared, "I feel like we are on the verge of something big."

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Opportunity: Policy Fellows Program Accepting Applications


Looking for another way to build your leadership skills and network, specifically in the area of public affairs? Consider apply for the Policy Fellows program offered by the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. This nine-month leadership and professional development experience offers a chance to
  • Focus on practical leadership skill development
  • Engage with a diverse cohort of emerging and existing leaders
  • Connect to a long standing public affairs network
Participants will focus on using leadership to advance the public good and will engage in a group project of their own design that involves community partners addressing a public policy issue.

To learn more about this great offering, including how to apply, check out the program's website.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Opportunity: Symposium on Small Towns


Minnesota's small towns are part of what makes our state unique and great. The Symposium of Small Towns is a chance to come together with others to discuss and address the changing truths of small towns and debunk the myths about migration to and from small town. Fittingly, this year's topic is Understanding Rural Migration: Myths, Trends and Opportunities Exposed. Click here for more information or read the flyer below.

WHAT: Symposium on Small Towns

WHEN: June 4 and 5, 2014

WHERE: Morris, MN

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Highlights from the Compass Annual Meeting 2014


MNCompassAnnual.jpgWhat do predicting the choices of each state in the last Presidential election, finding value on the baseball diamond, and making better movie recommendations have in common? All three are informed by data.

On February 11, 2014, Minnesota Compass hosted its Annual Meeting. Entitled Minnesota next: Millennials, leadership, and the information economy, presenters used data to highlight key trends throughout the state. Here are some interesting highlights for leaders to consider:
  • Minnesota is aging but Millennials comprise the largest percentage of Minnesota's population at 28% (followed by Baby Boomers at 25%)
  • Diversity is fueling Minnesota's growth - In the past 12 years, the state's overall population grew by a modest 10%. But Minnesota experienced a 63% increase among our state's population of color
  • Employment is bouncing back, but not for all groups - At 75%, Minnesota leads the nation in the proportion of adults working, but that number plummets for some groups, including African-Americans (58%) and Native Americans (51%)


Speakers also addressed engaging millennials and using data to identify the positives.



To get more data and trends for thought, check out Minnesota Compass' site. It also contains full videos of the presentations for the dedicated data lovers.

How might you use this data guide your work, volunteering, and community?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Opportunity: At Your Service - Working with Multicultural Customers


At Your Service is a Train-the-Trainer learning session that provides curriculum and knowledge about customer service that you can take back and share with your community.

Minnesota is rapidly diversifying and this full day session focuses on working with multicultural customers. The session provides:
  • an experience with the program content
  • tips for improved delivery
  • ideas for tailoring the content to your situation
  • and preparation to use the curriculum effectively for training your community.
When: Friday, March 28, 2014
Time: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Where: University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus, 120 Coffey Hall
Cost: $459 per person (includes one copy of the curriculum and lunch)

To find out more and to register, visit the Tourism Center's website.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Looking for something fun? Try 2014 Winterfest

winterfest-dogsled-final-hfinstad.jpgMcLeod for Tomorrow, a nonprofit that grew out of an Extension leadership cohort, puts on the Winterfest. Many of the leadership alumni are actively involved in this great community event. Consider attending for a wide variety of activities and fun!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Opportunity: Community Innovation Grants available

Bush.pngWant to try something new and different in your community that solves problems and will lead to more effective, and equitable, solutions? Consider applying for a Community Innovation Grant, being offered by the Bush Foundation.

Grants ranging from $10,000 to $200,000 are available for nonprofit organization and government entities that are willing to test new solutions to community challenges. Applications are being accepted through March 13, 2014.

To learn more, visit http://z.umn.edu/bushfoundation

Monday, January 6, 2014

Educator Corner: Influence - Activating personal power

Educator Corner is a feature on the blog that will appear regularly. Each entry will feature 1 of the 9 Leadership and Civic Engagement educators from around the state providing space for their thoughts on what may be useful for leaders and followers practicing in their communities and organizations.



TSpanier.jpg"I don't have the positional power to make this happen."

I recently heard this comment from a person who was interested in getting others in the community involved in a local project. As our conversation continued she went on to say, "I can get people to say yes simply because my personal relationship with them. Personally, they wouldn't think of saying no if I asked them to participate." Granted this leader had little or no positional power but had a tremendous amount of personal power.

Don't underestimate your ability to influence others even when you lack positional power. I am starkly reminded of this with the recent death of Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and Noble Peace Prize winner. During his long life, Mandela inspired and influenced countless individuals. These individuals collectively were able to end apartheid and unify a country. Mandela's life speaks to the power possessed by a powerless man.

Researchers who studied sources of power found two, positional and personal.* Position power is derived from the position you hold within the organization. It is delegated down the chain of command. Managers often rely on position power to get the job done.

Personal power is derived from the followers based on the leader's behavior. Charismatic leaders have lots of personal power. Friendship also gives personal power. The two sources of power are relatively independent, yet they often overlap. Today's effective leaders are relying less on positional power and more on personal power to influence others, and they are open to being influenced by followers with personal power.

Recognizing the type of power you have as a leader is helpful in determining the influence tactic you might consider. For those possessing little positional power, consider using:
  • Rational persuasion includes logical arguments with factual evidence to convince others to implement your recommended actions. A case must be made based on the other party's needs. Logical arguments work well with people whose behavior is more influenced by thinking than emotions.
  • Inspirational appeals connect to the values, hopes, fears, and goals of others. Positivity and optimism create a vision of how things will be when the objective is achieved. Think Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech.
  • Personal appeals involve asking someone to do a favor out of friendship or loyalty. They are most likely to be used when asking for something that is not part of the target person's regular job responsibilities.

All three are often effective influencing tactics to gain commitment on a local community project or to help bring about peace and freedom to a nation.

*French, J. & Raven, B. (1959). Studies of Social Power. Institute for Social Research. Ann Arbor, MI: ISR Merchant, P. (2012) 5 Sources of Power in Organizations.

Toby Spanier, educator for Southwest Minnesota, works out of Extension's regional office in Marshall.

Any use of this post must include credit to Tobias Spanier. For questions, please contact Eriks Dunens, University of Minnesota Extension, at (612) 626-5943 or dune0007@umn.edu.


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