Recent Blog Posts

By: Beth Flynn, Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020
  1. "Courage
  2. Loyalty
  3. Diligence
  4. Modesty
  5. Honesty
  6. Gratitude (p. 68-73)."

From: Lesser, M. (2019).  Seven practices of a mindful leader.  Novato: CA: New World Library.

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Today is the 155th anniversary when black slaves received the news in Texas of their freedom from Federal soldiers; two and half years after the Civil War ended and the Emancipation Proclamation.  Really not that long ago. There have been additional amendments and legislation to secure other freedoms including the 13th Amendment (to abolish slavery, Dec. 1865) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Even though proclamations, declarations, and legislation have been passed to free slaves, grant equal protections and right to vote, only true freedom and equality will be achieved when racial bias and beliefs of superiority are removed from hearts and minds. It is difficult because often these beliefs or implicit biases are hidden and affect our thoughts and actions in an unconscious manner. Together in ACEL through education, communication, and leadership we will work to promote anti-racism that fosters racial equality and justice. 

The recent CFAES update from Dean Kress and educational guide from Dr. Dickerson (see attachment) provides helpful insight and perspective for Juneteenth. 

“June 19th is known as Juneteenth, it’s also known as Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Cel-Liberation Day, and is an American holiday that celebrates the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy. Learn more about this African American tradition that has been around since the late 19th century. On this historical day take time to consider one’s own bias by reading, listening or watching a video. Resources can be found on the OSU Focus on Racial Justice website as well as the Smithsonian Magazine website.” (Dean Kress, CFAES Update)

ACEL stands in support and solidarity with our Black, Indigenous, and people of color students, staff, faculty, and stakeholders.

-Dr. Scott D. Scheer, Interim Chair & Professor, Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership

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By: Beth Flynn, Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

"In the twenty-first century, the managers who create the most value are those who best empower others.

As a manager, your ultimate task is to hire, motivate and develop leaders for your enterprise. You serve your enterprise - and your customers - most effectively by empowering your team to unlock their potential, individually and in combination with others.

Empowerment occurs in big and small ways. The big ways include a culture of relentlessly pushing authority and capacity for action to the level closest to the customer. Effective delegation is not a static concept. It is dynamic, constantly evolving.

The new world of 24-7 customer service and just-in-time supply chains necessitates employee empowerment. It is simply not possible to create maximal value through a traditional, centralized management system. Empowering individuals to make decisions, on the front line, in real time, is the order of the day.

Life flowers blooming from seedlings scattered by the winds, examples of management based on empowering employees are found everywhere (p. 161-162)."

From: Strock, J. (2019). Serve to lead 2.0: 21st century leaders manual. Serve to Lead Group https://servetolead.org

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By: Beth Flynn, Tuesday, June 09th, 2020

"One of the key components of the vulnerability decision is the willingness to openly acknowledge and then embrace your flaws. This can be very difficult because, again many leaders perceive this as a kind of weakness. They believe this will make them seem fallible, and thus they will lose their authority and respect. But if done in the right way, being open about one's imperfections has the opposite effect, and the best leaders know how to do this.


Admitting your flaws accomplishes several goals. First, it allows you to admit there is room for improvement. How can you change if you think you're already perfect? If you can get past yourself and see that you - as a human being and a leader - are more of a work-in-progress than you are a final product, then you'll set the stage to make the kind of changes necessary to take yourself - and your team - to the next level. 

  
Second, being transparent about your imperfections inspires a tremendous sense of trust in you from your team. The truth is that those who work with and for you already know that you're not, and if your colleagues and staff know that you are conscious of your gaps, they can fully trust that you'll take responsibility for them. It may sound counterintuitive, but it works (p. 139-140)."

From: Lesser, M. (2019).  Seven practices of a mindful leader.  Novato: CA: New World Library.

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CFAES Community:

It’s hard to find the words to describe what the past two weeks have generated for all of us in our college, university, and country. The unjust death of George Floyd is the latest example of a historical pattern where we must do better. I’ve listened to many within our community expressing their anger, fear, and outrage. I’ve read emails from members of our college and articles from many colleagues and others. I’ve heard some expressing their discomfort with the topic, or even how to talk about it. Some have suggested that racial injustice and current social events aren’t directly in our wheelhouse. I disagree. Truthfully, we’ve struggled with how to respond.

While I did send out a communication first thing Monday morning, I only sent it to faculty and staff. I sincerely apologize that I didn’t ensure that message also reached all of our students and I have attached it to this message.

Many of us are outraged and filled with sorrow by the recent killings of Black people, including Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade. These are only a few examples of the daily violence perpetuated against Black people. In CFAES we work alongside communities as we seek to make our vision – We Sustain Life – a reality and to create a more just world. Such a world is only possible when all are treated equitably and humanely. Our college and our stakeholders, as part of our strategic planning process this past year, upheld diversity as a central value of our community. It means we value differences; we believe we are stronger and more creative because of our differences—but it also means, that we acknowledge racism exists, not just in a city somewhere else, but here in our college  and across the entire state of Ohio. We commit to working to end it and to live up to our CFAES mission centered on learning and the discovery of knowledge to sustain life. I know we are unified in this mission, but we must also recognize there is much more to it than growing food or ensuring the safety and security of our food or water. Proactively, we are continually challenged to consider the community we create and build together.

As President Drake said this weekend, “we must reaffirm our commitment as Buckeyes to our university values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance.” As CFAES Buckeyes, we affirm our commitment. To that point, here’s what we’ve done and what will continue working towards:

  1. In the midst of the pandemic, I pushed for the exemption to allow us to hire an Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Dr. Patrice Dickerson’s leadership will be important in meeting the needs of all our faculty, staff and students during this pandemic and intensified issues involving equity, inclusion and access. This week, we’ve been working to onboard Dr. Dickerson part-time, prior to her July 1 start. She will be reaching out to our community­­–first reaching out to our faculty, staff and students of color to provide space and care during this time. As it is not enough to passively oppose racism, Dr. Dickerson and the DEI team will also begin to actively engage the entire CFAES community in understanding what it means to authentically combat racism.
  2. Through investing and reorganizing we moved our CFAES Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) unit to more solid footing. We will now have a team of dedicated professionals to streamline our DEI work related to faculty, staff, and students. Our work cannot hinge on our CFAES DEI unit alone or just with your dean. We can organize events, provide sound advice, and provide leadership but the real work sits with all of us.
  3. I’ll be convening our “council of councils” – leaders of Faculty Advisory CouncilStaff Advisory CouncilGraduate Student Advisory Council, and the CFAES (Undergraduate) Student Council to discuss how we might move forward as a community in the immediate crisis. We need you to participate and share what you think our community should do, and what actions we should take. I encourage you to engage with your respective representatives to have your voices heard. You can start by listening to some student voices. The latest version of our student magazine, AgriNaturalist is now online featuring two relevant articles: a general article about our state of diversity in CFAES and the second article about Cultivating Change, an LGBTQ+ and ally student organization specific to colleges like ours. https://u.osu.edu/agrinaturalist/2020-2/
  4. I’ll also be convening our college leadership to discuss actions that we can take to be better leaders around these issues. Throughout our college, leaders are sending messages to their units, convening conversations, or taking other actions. This will continue.

We are a community based on solving problems, a community that depends upon our science, and we are faced with issues of racial injustice which make it obvious that what many of us might have hoped was getting better or was generally, okay—never has been. I propose the above as a start—a place to find some common ground and take action as a college.  We need to continue to listen carefully and not assume we know, to address the racism we encounter in our daily lives, and to deepen our levels of empathy for the lived experiences of all oppressed and marginalized populations, especially African Americans. Each of us chooses what we will do, how we will change, what we will be like because—here’s my most important point—this college is our community.

Dr. Cathann Kress, Vice President for Agricultural Administration & Dean, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

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Dear ACEL Community, 

The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor (only three of the many unjust deaths in the BIPOC community) over the last several months have amplified the long history of systemic racism in this country. Please know this message comes from a genuine place of care and concern; also that words alone cannot solve or address the racial injustices in the U.S., rather this work will involve our daily intentions, actions, and behaviors. 

This quote from Kareem Abdul Jabbar rings true, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.” Link for full article: LATimesOpEd

ACEL stands in support and solidarity with our students, staff, and faculty in the black, indigenous, and people of color community (BIPOC). ACEL can and must be part of the solution to ensure that black lives matter and to help create a society free of injustices and racial disparities (manifesting in the areas of education, health, income, poverty, COVID-19, employment, to name a few.). 

It will be critical for all of us in ACEL to use our strengths of education, communication, and leadership to work together in support and solidarity to stop racism, injustice, and violence. Our ACEL committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been making positive change to advance DEI, challenging ACEL to do the difficult work to acknowledge positionality and privilege. ACEL will be working closely with Dr. Patrice Dickerson, our new Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for CFAES, to continue these critical efforts. 

We know more work needs to be done to recognize that personal and systemic prejudice and racism are pervasive realities in our society past and present.  We are committed to find additional strategies and places to shine light on these challenges so everyone in ACEL (faculty, staff and students) and all stakeholders we serve and engage with can learn and grow individually while they contribute to an equitable and inclusive system.  Making sure all members of our society are both seen and heard as we work toward a better future together will remain a key priority for our ACEL family.  We welcome suggestions and engagement as we strive towards inclusion and safety for everyone.

Your voice is important, so please reach out to me directly or any of our faculty and staff to share your concerns and input. It will take all us. Our incoming chair, Dr. Shannon Washburn is fully devoted to this effort and will be an advocate and leader for us as we work together. 

ACEL stands in support and solidarity with our BIPOC students, staff, faculty, and stakeholders.

Dr. Scott Scheer, Interim Chair & Professor, Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership

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By: Beth Flynn, Tuesday, June 02nd, 2020

"The rule says to give one percent more time, energy, effort, focus, and care today than you did the day before. Obviously, you can't calculate one percent, but you can push yourself more today than you did yesterday. You can improve and get better today. You can strive for excellence and work to become your best. You can tune out distractions and focus even more on what matters most (p. 205)."

From: Gordon, J. (2017). The power of positive leadership: how and why positive leaders transform teams and organizations and change the world. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons.

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As we start our Monday after such an emotionally charged weekend, I wanted to acknowledge the range of emotions that spans our community from this last week’s events – sadness, confusion, hurt, and anger. I want to ensure we are taking care of each other during this time and thought it was timely to remind you of an important resource for your wellbeing. The Ohio State University has a robust Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that is here to support all employees with a host of resources. The EAP is available 24 hours a day, call 1-800-678-6265 to talk to a live person, or click here and type in username "buckeyes" to view expanded services. 

The unjust death of George Floyd is yet another example of where we must do better. I recognize that there is a broad continuum of reactions and many of those will be represented across the breadth of our college community. President Drake sent a message this weekend calling on renewed efforts to address racial injustice. He states, “we must seriously and concretely redouble our efforts to end abuse, discrimination, bigotry, and hatred.”

I look forward to Dr. Patrice Dickerson’s leadership as our Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in helping us move forward as a community, together, to elevate our current standards and practices to be more equitable and inclusive. I am grateful we were able to finalize our search and garner her commitment to serve in this role. Associate Dean Kitchel has been very clear that our Assistant Dean and the DEI team cannot do this work alone. It will require our collective efforts. However, I am encouraged that we were both able to recruit Dr. Dickerson to our community and even more encouraged that we took the time to have meaningful conversations and affirm that diversity is a top value of our college.

Dr. James Moore, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion in a message sent late last week stated:

“I believe in the power of education. We have an immense opportunity to transform the lives of our students and colleagues as we put our stamp on the next generation of leaders. The next generation will take on these issues that have bedeviled us and build on the work that previous generations have done.”

While recent events are discouraging, I share Dr. Moore’s conviction that each of us can add to the needed change and must continue to find the resolve to do so. Our college has not only affirmed our value for diversity, we are unified in our mission to sustain life. Accepting that mission, we must also recognize there is much more to it than growing food or ensuring the safety of our food or water—we are continually challenged to consider the community we wish to build together.

Dr. Cathann Kress, Vice President for Agricultural Administration & Dean, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

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By: Beth Flynn, Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

"The most compelling persuasive communications come from individuals whose personae, life experiences and verbal messages coalesce.

The leader who personified her vision can transform her life into an ongoing narrative. That can be a tangible service, inspiring countless others.

You are the Message. To most effectively serve your audience, you must fuse ever greater parts of yourself into your message. Your values, your hopes for the future, your life history, your habits of living and working, the very clothes you wear...these can all become elements of your communication arsenal (p. 277)."

From: Strock, J. (2019).  Serve to lead 2.0: 21 st century leaders manual.  Serve to Lead Group  https://servetolead.org

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By: Beth Flynn, Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

"Self-awareness means knowing what you're good at and what you're not. It means you don't hide your flaws or cover up your mistakes. You don't pretend to know it all. It means you practice humility and embrace learning. Not only do transparency and vulnerability help people like and trust you, they set the right example for other leaders and employees. When everyone is willing to take risks, learn from mistakes, and seek out opportunities to learn and grow, organizations thrive.

Coachability just means you're open to feedback. You don't get bent out of shape by constructive criticism. You're actually grateful for it because you want to improve and grow, personally and professionally. You want to be a better leader, spouse, partner, parent, or friend (and you know that growth impacts all of these roles).

Self-awareness and coachability are connected. Each one leads naturally to the other. When we know what we need to improve on, we're more likely to seek the help of others who can coach us. Once we seek that help we become even more self-aware. It's a cycle that builds on itself. The hardest part is getting started, but it gets easier.

When these two qualities become part of your company's culture, you're on your way to becoming an unstoppable organization. It's easier to engage and motivate employees. High performers will be drawn to you (and will be more likely to stick around). Productivity will soar.

All of this can start with one leader. By improving your own performance and setting an example for others by working to become more self-aware and coachable, you will inspire others to do the same. In fact, if you want to help others improve, this is not optional (p. 45-46)."

From: Studer,Q. (2020). The busy leader's handbook: how to lead people and places that thrive. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons.

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