The Five Ws and Impact of the First iLEAD F2F Seminar — A Personal Reflection
As a member of iLEAD Cohort II, I was presented the challenge of explaining the who, what, where, when, why, and impact of our first face-to-face (F2F) iLEAD seminar held at the C. A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center on Aug. 17-19, 2022.
I am a True Colors Green/Gold and so are several others in the class, but there are all different personalities within the Division. I always find myself personally struggling with dealing with certain situations due to people not aligning with me. For the “who," I chose myself because this first session really challenged us to find ourselves, so we better understand how we work as a team. Key word for myself would be “adapting”.
My “what,” is what surprised me. Come to find out, no matter where you are within the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture (UADA), we all have issues, and some are much more common than you’d think. I naturally felt myself gravitating towards my fellow agents due to our similar issues, but as we spoke, I could tell everyone could relate.
Everywhere? We are spread thin and working so many angles that sometimes we forget why we chose our jobs. I heard people speak on their personal and professional passions when we talked about ourselves. It really hit me how everywhere can be both good and bad. We want reach and impact, sometimes the local aspects and our core values are why we keep coming back, no matter the obstacles. Having this group of friends, co-workers, and/or family that we can speak freely to can help ease the burden of all the directions we get pulled daily.
Now? As I looked around the room from my viewpoint many of the county staff members were young with under 10 years of UADA service. While many of the others were more seasoned. I think it is great that we have diversity. One thing I heard from all was that we have opportunities for change. While change typically doesn’t happen overnight, I felt our group understood the need for SMART solutions. We always hear this is how we’ve always done it. Is there potential to ask a fresh group of eager colleagues looking towards the future how would they do it? I’d say “yes.” We talked a lot about managers vs. leaders. I believe it is a management decision to leverage our assets of wisdom and fresh eyes. I heard a lot of great ideas and conversation, so for me I think the “when” is now because we have amazing colleagues.
Why did I join iLEAD? I wanted to give myself a better understanding of the “why” we do the things we do. I didn’t even initially finish my application but was later asked to finish. In all honesty, I feel as though it was a smart decision. I’ll walk away having a better understanding of my position in the organization, and how my colleagues all fit within UADA. Somedays, I ask myself a lot of “why” questions. Guess what? So do a lot of others; so, reach out and communicate with your peers. They are probably struggling with similar issues. For those who are dreading that phone call from a peer just stop and listen and ask yourself why did they call me? You may find out that you are more impactful than you thought.
The one thing I took away from the first face-to-face iLEAD session is that my colleagues, no matter their age, race, gender, personality and/or whatever defines them, are willing to meet tasks head on with understanding. I saw people who I had never met: zipline without a thought, overcome fears, share stories, and laugh. We laughed at jokes and at struggles we all share (Workday). I think for our jobs it is a passion for people and education that drives us forward no matter the obstacles. My hope is that the skills we are learning collectively will help reduce the burdens on our future/current colleagues as we will be better leaders in our respective areas.
The iLEAD program provides professional development opportunities to support employee retention. For more information about the iLEAD program contact Dr. Julie Robinson, firstname.lastname@example.org or Lisa Davis, email@example.com.
Matthew J. Davis is staff chair of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture county extension office in Jackson County. He is also a member of iLEAD Cohort II, which kicked off in July. iLead is a year-long commitment.