Leading with Questions: The Art of Empowering and Guiding Others

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Virginia Cooperative Extension

Although the public generally looks to Cooperative Extension for answers, we also need to engage in leadership, and "leadership is not as much about knowing the right answers as it is knowing the right questions" (Tiede, 2013, p. 2). This session will highlight the practice of leading with questions and connect it directly to the work of Extension professionals. We will draw upon practical experience and related literature, such as Marquardt's (2014) book, "Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask," and Marquet's (2012) book, "Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders." Participants will engage in conversation about how the principles can be applied in their work with educational program participants, Extension Leadership Councils, administrators, program partners, potential donors, and more. “People have the inherent capacity to solve their own problems and that social transformation is within the reach of all communities" (Kellogg Foundation, 2009). At the 2010 Virginia Rural Summit, Delegate R. Steve Landes noted the importance of empowering local governments to solve their economic and health care problems. Thus, there is a need to prepare volunteers, civic leaders, and elected and appointed officials to be the force for positive change within their communities. Research supports this notion that community leaders need to be involved in the decision-making process and problem solving to help organize and develop their communities. Furthermore, VCE professionals want to explore the opportunities for collaborations and partnerships, yet they are unsure how. The Unit Situation Analysis and Issues Reports revealed a clear need for more prepared community leaders and more representative civic engagement. in addition, the Early Careers Extension Agent focus groups revealed that VCE professionals want to explore positive examples of collaborative work between agents, agents and specialists, and faculty and external partners. This workshop will directly contribute to the outcomes identified for the Community Leadership subset of the Leadership, Volunteerism, and Civic Engagement Program Team: ● Increased knowledge of leadership skills and characteristics. ● Increased knowledge of the different types of leadership models. ● Increased capacity of VCE professionals to facilitate leadership trainings in the community. ● Increased participation in community leadership roles. ● Adopted shared leadership practices including coaching and collaborative decision making.