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A global network for rural leadership

20 April 2021

JD Dunbar, RULE Leadership Program Director in Pennsylvania USA, has credited the ARLF’s Chief Executive, Matt Linnegar with the idea to engage Rural Leaders from across the globe in the first Rural and Urban Leadership Global Event. 

The inaugural two-hour event was conducted at 2030hr (UK) on Wednesday 24 March 2021 (0730hr Thursday 25 March 2021 AEDST).  The format of the forum was set to explore international interpretations of “What makes a Good Leader”. There were over 80 participants at the forum, conducted over Zoom.

Participants from Australia and Canada jointly opened the event and then other countries presented their responses before being split into smaller breakout groups.  Matt Linnegar and Anita Dennis (ARLP Cohort 26) spoke to the Foundation’s Leadership Practices and the ARLP leadership journey. 

JD’s opening remarks resonated across the forum as she advised participants to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”.  It was clear that the term “rural” is universal and key themes were strong amongst each of the leadership programs.

Larry Van De Valk, LEAD New York, shared his insights into effective networking and leadership, advising that “diversity of participants” was key.  Increased social media “likes” do not equate to successful networking if you don’t have the right mix of people and people “who know other people”.

The breakout groups were given key questions to discuss, including:

  • What skills, attributes and behaviours have you tried to develop in your experience on your respective program? 
  • How would you define leadership?
  • Has your understanding of the term “leadership” changed through your participation in your respective program?

The groups reconvened and presented their findings to the forum.  Discussions expanded to include the impact of COVID and how social boundaries have changed now that nearly every interaction is a video interaction.

One group discussed how it is easier to misinterpret conversations because you can’t monitor a person’s body language as easily in a virtual world. Interactions are now more “business” as video conferencing doesn’t accommodate the small talk that would happen in a face to face environment.

They went on to discuss how introverts are realising that they aren’t as introverted as they may have once thought, or is it more that they can no longer control the when and how they interact with people? Extroverts are becoming drained due to the constant virtual interaction and are realising the importance of down time.

Closing remarks declared the forum a success and opportunities to reconvene anticipated.

By Catherine Daniel, ARLP C26