Youth development is the focus of everything we do and that 4-H allows individuals to unlock their potential through:
- active involvement in self-determination of their learning activities;
- quality experiences that stimulate skills for living and lifelong learning;
- relationships that empower people to voluntarily help themselves and each other; and
- interaction with caring adults and peers to create a positive family-like support system.
Partnerships are essential in successful youth development for:
- resource development;
- program innovation;
- delivery capacities;
- creating and delivering caring environments; and
- access to research-based knowledge.
Volunteerism is fundamental to:
- delivering quality programs;
- developing adult educational capacity; and
- teaching youth to volunteer.
Diversity strengthens the ability of 4-H to:
- develop positive values among program participants in today's global society; and
- provide opportunities for program involvement regardless of economic, social, culture, age, disability, or gender.
Leaders influence and support others in a positive manner for a shared goal. Leaders aren't just elected. You can be a member of committees, small groups and teams. Learning about yourself and how you work with others is a key part of developing leadership skills.
- Understand roles, attitudes, tasks and functions necessary for effective leadership.
- Strengthen local 4-H units in leadership responsibility and encourage other youth.
- Participate in program planning, development, and implementation; help recruit new members and leaders.
Everyone realizes that since no two individuals are the same, neither can any two leaders be the same. That is, all leaders have different ways of conducting meetings to get the job done. Consider for a moment the host of meetings you have attended in many different groups to which you belong. You know that there are no two individuals who ever conduct a meeting the same way. Each leader has a different style or type of leadership.
Types of Leaders
Any particular individual may fit one or more of these broader leadership types: autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. However, the general tendency is for a person to maintain a particular leadership pattern once it has been established. These three types of leadership may be either on the formal or informal level. As you study these various leadership types you can probably think of individuals who "fit" each type.
The autocratic type of leader has been called a "snoopervisor" or a "one-man show" because he/she is constantly checking on the members to see that they carry out his/her decisions. Someone has said, "autocratic leaders are generally so narrow-minded they can look through a small knot hole with both eyes." Do you know anyone like this? People lead groups this way to help overcome frustrations or through ignorance of a better way to lead. Other organizations, such as the Armed Forces, are so complex that they may need autocratic leadership to keep the group functioning. Most organizations to which we belong, however, are not as complex as the Armed Forces.
The autocratic type of leadership is analogous to a one way street; the leader gives the orders and the members carry these orders out. The orders are never questioned openly. Hence, such orders may not be understood by the members. The autocratic leader sees the task of understanding as his job and not the job of the other group members. Whether members understand the task is of no concern to the autocratic leaders, as long as the end result is done to the leader's satisfaction. The leader has set the group standards. This type of leadership may have a place in our society; however, the "place" is specific and limited, as was cited previously with the Armed Forces.
Whereas the autocratic leader has an overabundance of self confidence or authority, the laissez-faire leader has neither of these two characteristics. Consequently, he/she avoids direct contact with the group members as much as possible. With laissez-faire leadership, the group decides what should be done and how it should be done. The group never gets much accomplished since there is not a delegated leader to coordinate its activities. Laissez-faire leadership is also a one way street, but it runs in the other direction. The laissez-faire leader sets no clear goals. He/she is often not capable of making decisions alone or helping the group arrive at workable decisions. The group has no clear set of standards, so things simply drift along. Unlike autocratic leadership, laissez-faire leadership never seems to have a place within an active, functioning group.
Democratic leadership has been called the happy medium. In point of fact, it is the way of life that our country believes best for governing her people. Should it not also be the best type of leadership for “leading a small group?
The democratic leader lets the group share in all phases of the organization's work; that is, all phases of work within the group’s present capabilities. This is the superhighway approach. The insightful democratic leader also recognizes that group capabilities change. Thus, the responsibilities given to the group should change as capabilities change. This point is especially important for the leader of volunteer groups such as 4-H. Capabilities change as individuals learn new skills. Have you re-evaluated your group's capabilities lately? Have the responsibilities been updated to be in line with the capabilities?
Group participation and decision-making within the group capability framework, is encouraged and strengthened by the democratic leader. Increased participation leads to increased member commitment and involvement, which in turn, leads to a more active, productive group complete with a satisfied membership. The democratic group feels the successes and/or failures of the group are theirs and not the leader's. In true democratic leadership, the leader is apart of the group rather than apart from it. The motto of a true democratic leader seems to be.
"I will make myself as unnecessary as I can as soon as possible; since this will ultimately be of most benefit to the group of which I am a member."
In other words, the democratic leader delegates the responsibility to various members rather than keeping all of the "power" to himself. The democratic group has a clear-cut set of goals together with a clear understanding of how to obtain these goals. The goals have been arrived at by a cooperative group effort.
Where Are Opportunities for Being a Leader?
Did you ever think that parents are leaders as they make family decisions, or that older brothers and sisters are leaders as they guide the actions (either consciously or unconsciously) of younger brothers and sisters? Even small children at play have a "leader." These preceding examples are probably not the ones that normally pop into your mind when you think of leadership--yet influence is exerted by someone in every one of the above situations.
Did you ever watch children at play? They often change leaders for every new game. This is leadership at its best. Perhaps small children realize that no one individual has all of the skills and/or knowledge necessary to be best at everything. For certain, young children have not yet learned to guard their leadership positions as jealously as we adults. Therefore, a new leader emerges with a new situation. Perhaps, it is unfortunate that part of our childhood wisdom is sometimes forgotten.
Ever since Adam and Eve, whenever two or more people have congregated, a leader emerges. Small, informal groups may have no elected leader, yet they do have leader(s). Our more complex organizations, (e.g., federal government) have a hierarchy of leadership. Stated another way, within the more formal organizations there are different levels of elected leaders or decision-makers. Decisions are made up and down the line, from the President to the custodian and back again. Only the number of people influenced by the decision and/or the intensity of the influence varies.
Thus, it can be seen that leadership is not an "all or none" matter. On the contrary, each member is to some extent a leader as he or she exerts some influence upon the other members of a group; that is, the group with which a member is currently interacting since you are a member of more than one group. How many groups are you a member of today? You undoubtedly exerted influence upon others and they on you.
Adapted by Elizabeth Bolton, Extension Leadership Development Specialist, from Mr. Daryl K. Heasley. Leadership Training for You. Pennsylvania State University.
San Diego County Alumni
Ashley Colburn is a 4-H Alumni that calls San Diego County home when she is not jet setting around the world. Coming from a family of travelers, her desire to travel started at an early age and began in earnest when she studied for a semester in Spain. Ashley navigated the country by train, bus, and plane while she learned the language and also found time for trips to Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Britain. After graduating from Colorado State University with a major in technical journalism and minor in Spanish, Ashley began her career as a host, producer, and writer for Wealth TV in 2009. She produced her first travel show ”WOW Croatia!” which was awarded Croatia’s Golden Pen award (Best U.S. media) and won an Emmy in 2010. Following her success with the Croatia show, Ashley created “TAKEOFF with Ashley Colburn” a travel series that premiered in 2010 on WealthTV and took her to over 25 countries on 6 continents over 2 seasons. Having served as an All Star and State Ambassador helped propel Ashley to celebrity status!
Biographies of our Alumni
Currently a Senior at California State College San Marcos. Alex served as an All Star and went on to represent San Diego County as a State Ambassador. She was selected as National Miss ANTSO in 2010. Alex is a ballet/dance instructor when she isn't in class. She is graduating with a 4.0 gpa and plans on going on to graduate school. At 4-H she was involved in many community service projects and has donated hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths for Cancer Patients. Her compassion partially derives from being born legally deaf & not diagnosed until 4 years old.