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Around The Grange
Leadership Tip: The New Pencil Principle

By Rusty Hunt, National Leadership/Membership Director

  AUGUST 22, 2010 --

Picture this, You have just bought a new box of pencils. As you open this box for the first time, seeing all those shiny new pencils just waiting to go to work for you, what would you say to them to prepare them for what they are about to do?

First you would tell them that they have all the essential elements needed to do the job. But you will have to prepare them before their first job. They will need to be sharpened. This will focus them to do the job they are to do.

Second you tell them that they will make mistakes. So, you have given them an eraser so they can erase the mistakes and get a second chance to do it right.

Third you inform them that they are all about what is inside. This is what everyone wants. It is the most important thing and makes everything else about them good (or bad).

And last but not least they will need to make a mark. Because if they don't they will have squandered all that potential away and have nothing to show for themselves and have become useless to everyone.

Now how do these 4 things relate to Grangers?

As leaders of the Grange we are faced with a whole lot of Grangers out there that have all the essential elements to be good productive leaders and we need to use them so they can realize their potential.

We need to sharpen their skills by providing training. We need to teach them ways that they can maximize their skills. Help them focus on the task they are about to do. We need to have conferences, training days or weekends, and even informational materials available that are relevant to their needs and the Grange. They need to have opportunities to ask questions and hear about our experiences. If we don't provide this as Grange leaders who will? Sharpening a new pencil is like teaching potential new leaders.

Second we need to let them know that we don't expect them to be perfect. We understand the as they start doing things they will make mistakes. We don't want them to fear any reprocutions but let them know that we will help them erase those mistakes, learn what went wrong, and give them a second chance to make it right. Remember, if we want folks to go easy on us when we make mistakes we will want to show them the same mercy we would expect when they make mistakes. By doing this we are providing an eraser.

What's inside is their ATTITUDE! This is the foundation for everything. Potential new leaders need to know that the way they lead and work will make all the difference in how successful they are to be. I believe that we choose our attitude and that we can learn to be positive and look at the "glass is half full" most of the time. We can decide to take the "High Road" and remain calm and treat people with respect. In other words we can make the stuff inside good, something that everybody wants and would like to have.

Making a Mark for potential new members is what we all will see. Their actions and the words they use will touch others and leave an impression. They will learn how to leave their mark so it looks nice and will last. We also need to share with them that in order to leave a mark they will have to give something of themselves. They will leave a part of them with those they are leading or working with.

As I leave you with all this to ponder about the potential new leader I want to ask you one last question. You were once a "New Pencil" and now you have been leaving your mark by giving of yourself. Are you getting dull? Do you need to make a trip to the sharpener? I believe we all get dull from long stretches of use without sharpening. We all need to get together, share experiences, invite in a guest speaker, and evaluate our own skills and get that sharp point back that will make us more effective.


Rusty Hunt, Leadership/Membership Director
National Grange



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