Leaders must learn to address issues with perspective of all others involved

Jeanette Siemens, Pratt Tribune columnist
Jeanette Siemens.

The Leadership League of Pratt is about to start a new class in October. The leadership program transitioned from local to regional about two years ago and now includes people from the surrounding counties of Kiowa, Stafford, Barber and Kingman. Not all counties participate each year, but all have been represented at one time or another. 

I, Jeanette Siemens, along with Lisa Miller of Pratt Community College, are facilitators of the curriculum which focuses on the leadership competencies of the Kansas Leadership Center. The Leadership Center teaches that anyone can be a leader anytime and anyplace and that leadership is an activity, not a position. We hope that all those in positions of authority do have leadership skills, but leadership is necessary in our everyday lives everywhere. 

Anyone can lead anytime or anywhere, but the purpose must be clear, and we must know that leadership is risky business. Various competencies include diagnosing a situation, which means looking at the issue to be addressed not just from our perspective but that of all others involved and how will all be affected. It means being comfortable in raising the heat on a situation enough to make things happen. Managing self is another competency which is often overlooked in leadership, but if I am interested in this issue, I have to think about what is my part in the mess. This can be very enlightening and personal and lead to interesting conversations. Intervening skillfully in a situation along with energizing others are extremely as important as well and round out the competencies which intermingle in the leadership process. The group will also attend a session with the Leadership Center. 

So, in addition to the classroom work part of the program, we also tour the involved communities and learn more about each other. We are all connected and it's important to learn about the strengths and amenities of our neighbors as well as ourselves. Tours of the various counties are very interesting and educational. 

The leadership program began in 1992, with it being basically a community awareness program. Participants toured and learned many things about the community many of which they were unfamiliar. Then, the Kansas Health Foundation began looking into the health of communities beyond that of physical and surveyed places to find out what was lacking in that community. The response from a large number of places was the need for leadership... new, additional, different, etc.  

This led KHF to connect with local leadership programs such as ours. This connected prompted our program to change and begin developing sessions to include leadership skills and capacities. And as progress continued, that led to participation in further programming and presentation with the Kansas Leadership Center and eventually transitioning Pratt Leadership into the Leadership League of Pratt. It's an educational as well as learning experience for everyone, including us as facilitators.