Winter 1986 // Volume 24 // Number 4

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Taking Your Dog for a Walk


Taking Your Dog for a Walk

Have you ever considered that taking are luctant dog for a walk is leadership? If you're like me, probably not. However, after reading the recently published Running Things by Philip B. Crosby, I've changed my mind. As Crosby says: "Leadership is a practical tool of everyday life. Each of us leads something, even if it is only taking a reluctant animal for a walk each evening."

Several aspects of leadership and organizations he discussed are relevant to Extension. His primary themes are that everyone acts as a leader at times and that "the purpose of organizations is to help people have lives." Doesn't that sound like Extension philosophy to you?

As you work with volunteers, you may be able to use some of Crosby's ideas. He feels that being a successful leader can be attained just by taking the time to learn more about the task. Obviously, there are some natural leaders, but the rest of us have to work at it.

The leader creates the lifestyle of the organization, defined as any group of people, even a family, who "band together to accomplish something." Leadership, in Crosby's view, is getting people to cooperate enthusiastically. People will work when they feel fulfilled, appreciated, and have an opportunity for companionship.

"Dedication," he says, "cannot be considered a given. It has to be arranged, nurtured, pruned, and cultured." It will come if people understand the job and feel the results of their effort. People need to know what they're cooperating about.

As one of the many organizations that touches people's lives, we can use some of the themes presented in his book to analyze Extension and its opportunities for developing leaders.

  • Does Extension have an identity?
  • Have we taken our existence for granted?
  • Are we properly evaluating ourselves?
  • Have we helped people learn to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be?
  • Are we able to count on each other?
  • Have we shown appreciation for our volunteers?
  • Have we treated our audiences as customers?

As Crosby points out, an organization is visible at all times. We must continually ensure each detail is in place.

Patricia Jarboe Buchanan
University of Missouri - Columbia