Nebraska Pork Leadership Program – In Unity is Strength

In Unity is Strength

By Leslie McCuiston

What a way to start the day! We first meet at the NPPA office where Kyla, JD, Amy and myself have the opportunity to get acquainted quickly before we carpool to Kearney together. After a quick stop for lunch, we head to Team Concepts where we met Josh Erickson. Josh’s goal for our group that day was to get to know each other. As well as do some team building and engagement exercises, and learn a little about leadership styles.

We began with a little flashback to the 80’s and a challenge to play Simon individually. Once we have all timed out our four chances, we are challenged to work as a team.  The challenge is to press the buttons in the correct order 23 times. We quickly devise a strategy that entails writing each color down and verbalizing the order for the person pressing the buttons. This strategy easily gets us to 23. Learning that the group was much stronger than singularly working, and working as a team also minimized distractions.

We also tried a little outdoor excitement where we learned how skilled some are at breaking inflatable balls.

Levels of Engagement

Back inside, we talked about the 4 levels of engagement: actively engaged, engaged, disengaged, and actively disengaged

Actively engaged people are leading. These people would never consider not moving forward and are ready to go.

Engaged people do their job and nothing more. Additionally, someone who moves from actively engaged to engaged may do so without awareness or may come to that point from previous disappointment.

Disengaged people have to be pulled along. They are sitting in the boat, but they aren’t rowing and they have no intention to. They are happy with the status quo.

Actively disengaged people are utilizing their energy to move against the goal.

Josh believes the key to leadership is changing and managing the cycle of engagement. This allows you to avoid having to actively manage behavior. We actively discussed our own experiences with engagement shifts which lead into breaking down leadership styles.  Here, Josh broke his system down into three categories.

Visionary leaders lead from way out front: they chase an impossible dream; are highly motivating, inspiring, resilient and see success as making a dream a reality; they may leave the group to reach successes if they feel hindered or slowed by the group.

Relational leaders lead from the center: they want everyone to have an intimate connection; they engage and involve all parties; success is getting where they are going with the group; they may have trouble seeing a long term vision.

Supportive leaders lead from the rear: they don’t leave anyone behind; they make sure that everyone gets a piece of the credit; not failing is the definition of success; they may struggle to achieve the full goal because of need for buy in.

When all three are represented equally, appropriate organizational pace is achieved.

On to the capital for day two!

We began our day with an informative tour of the state capital. Our tour guide imparted us with the history not only of the building itself, but everything that went into the design and creation of what is now the existing building.  Having begun as a bicameral, there are actually two chambers, though one is now used primarily for media events only.

After the tour, we had a short review on the legislative process here in Nebraska. As well as some of the history associated with how the unicameral process works. Speaker Hadley, Senator Schilz and Senator Johnson all took time from their busy schedule to visit with us about the legislative process and legislation important to both the swine and agricultural community as a whole.  The imposition of term limits impacts all, it is easy to see how this has and will continue to significantly impact Nebraska legislation.

Though the process can be much more efficient with a single legislative body, they also all discussed how impactful one person can be on that process through filibuster. With a great deal of legislation still on the table, the expectation of successfully making it through the remaining bills in the mere 17 days left in the legislative year are very slim.

But that’s not all!

In between hearing from the legislators, Jeremy Davis of the National Pork Producers council, guided us through LEADR (Legislative Education Action Development Resource) training. This training is intended to equip participants to effectively communicate with their legislative representatives on important issues affecting the pork and or agricultural industry as a whole. A grassroots campaign that is geared to getting information out quickly to participants in order to mobilize a message if important legislation comes to the table on a national, state or local level. This training should prove very helpful for our team as we look to become more involved not only in Nebraska, but also when we have the opportunity to travel to Washington DC in September.trent-nowka

Al Juhnke, Executive Director for the Nebraska Pork Producers Association provided great information throughout the day on not only the legislative process here in Nebraska, but also introduced us to Trent Nowka the lobbyist hired by NPPA to work on our behalf at the Nebraska capital. At this time, we were afforded a brief view into the chamber to see a quick vote and were recognized on the floor for our attendance in the session. Some quick wrap up notes, and it was on to individual and group pictures before finishing up the day.