Their Stories

Leading with courage and support

16 January 2017

Krysteen McElroy believes iconic rural leadership program has given her a supportive network, more courage and a greater understanding of values.

Krysteen is a recent graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP), hailing from Padthaway, South Australia. She is a partner in a mixed farming operation and a leader in regional and community development, and primary industries.

Krysteen applied for the ARLP, as she saw it as her next challenge and a natural progression in her leadership development. The 15-month program takes leaders from rural, regional and remote areas from around Australia, on a series of sessions to develop their leadership capabilities. It involves five sessions in different locations including the remote Kimberley region in Western Australia and Indonesia.

Krysteen believes one of her greatest rewards from undertaking the ARLP is the connections she made in her group. The ARLP brings diverse people together from all over Australia, from a variety of different industries including health, the arts, and primary production. It’s no wonder that Krysteen developed such a close bond – together the group tackled the rugged terrain of the Kimberley, examined personal effectiveness, developed their critical thinking and were constantly challenged by experiential learning and real-life situations.

This network of people has become a support base for Krysteen. ‘I know there’s someone out there who I can ring and ask a question that no one else would understand and they are able to give me a courageous answer. These people know my faults and are pretty generous with giving gifts, which in ARLP language is feedback,’ said Krysteen.

Krysteen believes the ARLP has given her more courage and a focus on values. She is already influencing her local community and speaking out, where prior to the program she may have stayed silent. ‘The ARLP has given me more courage and strength to back myself in a situation where I might not win too many friends. I also know that if I have to walk away because they still don’t agree with me, that’s ok,’ she said.

As part of the ARLP, Krysteen elected to undertake a Graduate Certificate of Australian Rural Leadership from James Cook University, and believes this added to her experience during the ARLP. She believes, ‘completing the Graduate Certificate, really re-enforced what I learnt in the sessions and made me think a lot more about leadership, values and culture.’

Krysteen’s experiences highlight the ongoing impact of the ARLP which is delivered by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. The Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organisation, was established 25 years ago and continues to develop leaders with the support of its generous sponsors, including the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources who sponsored Krysteen.

The Foundation will celebrate 25 years of developing courageous, influential and ethical leaders for the greater good of rural, regional and remote Australia, at its Gala Dinner on 20 October 2017 in Canberra.