Leadership is as much about following as it is leading. The final day of Seminar three focused on this leadership competency area.  After a quick warm-up by Olga (Exec. Dir) and Christy (see “Simon Says” photo), Program Leader Christy Kallevig introduced MARL class XI to Leading through Engaged Followership. MARL class members joined breakout rooms to think of examples of situations when leading and following occur simultaneously. Later class members shared how they saw leaders and followers present in a previous activity on day two of the seminar.

Christy shared Robert Kelly’s research on the types of followers (see diagram below).  She followed this with the four basic needs that followers have from their leaders: trust, compassion, stability, and hope. The class embraced the concept of followership and will likely continue to reflect on it throughout MARL and in their leadership development.

The followership workshop was followed by some time spent in Peer Learning Circles. Program Leader Toby Spanier introduced Leadership Action Plans. These online action plans will be used throughout the remaining time in MARL. The action plans contain sections on:

  • Practice and Application
  • Personal Goal
  • Personal Philosophy for Leadership
  • Goals for the Journey Beyond

Following some time with Peer Learning Circles and sharing of action plan items, class members were introduced to Seminar Management Teams (SMTs). Toby Spanier shared with the class that the SMTs are a geographic collection of MARL class members who work and lead collaboratively together to ensure…

  • MARL seminars are professional, effective, efficient, impactful, and fun.
  • Meaningful connections are built in all the regions of the state.
  • The region’s agricultural and rural communities’ interests and concerns are heard.

SMTs were then given time together to review and plan for seminar four which will be a hybrid seminar combine online learning and face-to-face experiences in SMTs by regions. MARL class members appeared to be excited about the possibility to experience part of a MARL seminar in person in March.

Finally, Class XI ended seminar three with their golden nuggets, such as “thoughtfulness, connections, incremental progress, followership, trust, authenticity, pause, words to choose/loose!

Submitted by Toby Spanier, Program Leader

MARL focuses on helping individuals build confidence, competence, and connections.  The second day of our third seminar highlighted all three of these goals in different ways.

We had many different opportunities to build connections as a class and also with the many alumni that took time to participate in today’s session.  We began by building relationships with alumni who joined us for a scavenger hunt.  This allowed teams of alumni and current members to have fun together gathering items from their home to achieve the most points.  Congratulations to winners Michael Metzger (Class IV), Shannon Gegner, Kim Neumann, Austin Ludowese, and Erik Evans.  Thank you to Chelsea Russell (Class VII) for organizing the event and prizes for our winners.

The bulk of the day was spent building confidence and competence in our communication skills.  In the morning Kristen Harner (Class II) presented useful information to help class members learn how to speak to media in crisis situation.  One of the many great pieces of information shared with the class was a tool to help them determine what words to choose to describe themselves or someone else to the media.  Did you know that it is better to say that you are a farmer rather than a producer in most media interviews?  Thank you to Paula Mohr (Class VI), Staci Martin (Class VI), Pam Debele, Jeremy Geske, Janet Kubat (Class VII), Michelle Rossman (VII), and Ryan Wendland (Class IX) for preparing interviews for each of the class members and challenging them to improve their skills.

In the afternoon we transitioned away from traditional media and explored various social media platforms.  Carolyn Olson (Class X) presented on key facts around social media and encouraged us to think about the digital legacy that we are leaving.  We had several alumni and friends of MARL join us again this afternoon to help share their insights on social media through a panel discussion and small group conversations.  Thank you to Sara Hewitt (Class VIII), Tim Dufault (Class III), Lara Durben (VI), and Sue Knott with MN Dept. of Agriculture’s Ag in the Classroom for helping Class XI learn about Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogging.  Through their assistance our class members were able to build social media posts that help us to share information about issues that are important to us.

One special connection that we were able to enjoy was with Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan.  She joined Class XI briefly to share insights into the work that is happening across the state in our rural communities and in agriculture.  She also gave us three pieces of advice:

1) Stay persistent and remember that each of them deserve a seat at the table.  We are each experts and have something that share.  2) Ask for help and invite others into our work.  It is through inviting others in and asking for help that we make our initiatives stronger and build lasting relationships that can help us in the future.  3) Be bold by doing the things that are necessary to strengthen our communities and our state.  We look forward to connecting with the Lieutenant Governor when we are able to hold an in person seminar in St. Paul.

We had a great deal of confidence in our connections and had a new level of competence in our communication skills.  The MARL network continues to allow for unique opportunities; even in this virtual environment.

Submitted by Christy Kallevig, Program Leader

A MARL seminar starting at the inauguration of a new U.S. President; if that will not be unforgettable! The third seminar of Class XI happened virtually, due to Covid-19.

A participant’s setup for the virtual seminar

All 27 members joined at 8:30 a.m. via Zoom with introductions, good news and announcements after the holidays. I laid out the current situation regarding the program format. Program Leader Christy Kallevig then explained more about the plans for this three-day seminar. She touched on the three C’s to leadership cohorts: Competency, Confidence and Connections. She emphasized the Connections not being limited to others, but also space and place. Key to the success of MARL is to build relationships and alliances: the Connections. Together we are navigating this during the pandemic.

Program Leader Toby Spanier introduced Meaningful Involvement and the IAP2 Spectrum of Participation. Members had a chance to read about IAP2’s three pillars (core values, code of ethics and spectrum) of public participation as part of the seminar’s pre-work to have a better understanding. https://www.iap2.org/page/pillars.

This lead into the main session of the morning: a World Café. The purpose: to take a deeper look at our connections during the MARL experience. Several board members functioned as World Café hosts, including Linda Thompson, Bob Milligan, Patrice Bailey, Holli Arp, Shelly Schell and Olga Brouwer. Three rounds of small group conversations were held, with results “harvested” on a jamboard. Thanks to the engaged, candid conversations, plenty of useful ideas and suggestions were shared. This will help the MARL board and staff team to enhance the connections during the 18-month program.

Reflections on the World Cafe session

After a lunch break, the board and staff team shared proposals based on the World Café harvest. Members indicated their level of agreement using the Fist to 5 method; a visual version of the well-known 0-5 scale of agreement. It is fascinating to see how we all have different levels of comfort with situations, and at the same time a willingness to adapt and make the best of it. Class XI definitely seems to be committed to shared success.

Lastly, Christy facilitated an activity in which small groups created parodies to fairy tales. In “Reimagining the Classics”, members modernized a tale and added agricultural and rural elements to it. Fun props and even virtual backgrounds were used creatively to present on MARL-style Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Beauty and the Beast and Hansel and Gretel. A surprising, fun conclusion to the first day of Seminar 3.

Submitted by Olga Brouwer, Executive Director