One of the annual topics of discussion in McLeod For Tomorrow’s leadership program is “Learning your Personal Strengths.” This exercise allows participants to really focus on what they do well. How they are different and similar to the people around them. Personal strengths dive deep into the inner workings of individuals and often offer some clarity in decision making. This idea of personal strengths got me thinking about the community strengths we have in McLeod County.
Each town has its own personality it brings to the table. Some towns have unique businesses, character qualities, or other features that stand out. Others have a culture that makes the connection between neighbors different. Each offer something unique for the county. The town’s community strengths, if you will.
Opportunity of a Strength, Opposed to the Negative of a Weakness
Gallup stated that leaders who focus on the strengths of their team, improved engagement over eightfold (Gallup, 2008). Increasing engagement improves the outcomes for organizations everywhere. How does this apply back to McLeod County? Featuring strengths of individual cities allows us to build communities up to their potential.
Maximizing what is available and promoting it, seems a bit against the grain at first. What differentiates us, our cities, our leaders, can be our greatest strengths or our weaknesses if they are not understood. Leaders who are aware of their talents and know what might be needed to sharpen them are the most successful (Gallup, 2008). How can you fix a problem you know nothing about? How do you improve on a weakness without integrating strengths into it?
Relating Back to the County Model
The negative narrative is so strongly engrained in our communities. As a resident of Stewart, I have heard more times than I can count about McLeod West’s closure years ago. How this really started the demise of the town and other negative narratives that generate zero positive responses. If you have ever seen Ben Winchester speak about Rewriting the Rurul narrative, you know all about this. If you want to hear a bit about his research, check out this video. Living in the Middle of Everywhere – McLeod for Tomorrow gives more insight on the rural narrative in written format.
What if we focus on the strengths of our communities? Focused on the fact that Form-A-Feed is a HUGE contributor to the local economy. The company generates many jobs for people who surround the area.
What if we talked about how Stewart residents worked together to create a committee that works together to create events and community in the area? Or about CorTrust Bank and how they maintain office in Hutchinson, Glencoe, and Stewart, a brand presence in McLeod County.
How can focusing on our strengths as a community change how we look at our towns?