Butler County Times Gazette
  • Becky Wolfe: Leadership programs and your community

  • Leadership Butler is unique
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  • Community Leadership Programs (CLP’s) have been around the United States since the mid 70’s. They began as a way to bring a few people together in a concentrated effort to provide community information in hopes the participants would take the information and become more involved in their communities. The programs also provided a great opportunity for participants to meet others from around the community they may not otherwise have the opportunity to meet. Many CLP’s were established nationally with a state organization, like Leadership Kansas. In the early 80’s communities in Kansas started creating their own programs, usually through a Chamber of Commerce or other civic minded organizations. Today, you will also see many colleges adding a leadership studies program or civic leadership programs within their course curriculum.
    Leadership Butler is unique. It is known as the first “county-wide” effort in CLP’s in the State of Kansas. Also noteworthy is that Leadership Butler was the only one at the time to be a stand-alone program, with administrative and funding assistance from Butler County Economic Development.
    There are over 750 CLP’s in the United States (Langone & Rohs, 1995) where thousands of business professionals, local government officials, non profits and individuals participate and graduate. Putnam (2000) documents a decline in civic and social connectedness over the past 40 years. The traditional view of community leadership rests with a single or small group of individuals (Sandmann & Vandebger, 1995) who control and direct others. The contemporary view emphasizes the need for many more leaders being empowered to share the role as “facilitators”.
    As the Leadership Butler Adult program enters its 25th year, board members, nominators and staff are not void of being questioned about the program’s effectiveness. Are graduates using the skills acquired? Why does Leadership Butler fund raise annually? Has Butler County experienced higher levels of volunteerism and can it be contributed to Leadership Butler? In response to these inquiries, a study done by WSU in 2005 revealed participants of Leadership Butler were using the tools in their work environment and in their communities. This study also assessed that “the confidence of & belief in leadership skills and capacities are beneficial” by administrating a Likert scale. On the scale, a 1 as “strongly disagree” and a 6 was “strongly agree”, with the result an average of “5.21” (of those interviewed). It was concluded in the study that “the importance and need for leadership development in building strong communities cannot be debated. In order to thrive in the current economic, political and social environment, communities need leaders who can help local groups, businesses, and non profits work together.” (This study can be found at www.wsu.edu/community).
    CLP’s are a viable resource within your community to provide extensive leadership development training, community awareness, partnerships and so much more. Check into the opportunities a community leadership program can provide you, your staff, or your children.
    Page 2 of 2 - Kansas is highly recognized for our CLP’s. A lot of credit is due to the Kansas Health Foundation and the Kansas Leadership Center, who have invested a great amount of time and funds (through training opportunities and grants) on community leadership programs across the state. Leadership Butler has benefited from these supporters of Kansas programs and is proud to be part of the larger CLP network in Kansas and across the nation.
    For more information, contact Becky Wolfe, Executive Director, Leadership Butler, info@leadershipbutlerinc.org or visit our website at www.leadershipbutlerinc.org
     

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