Next-level leadership was on the agenda at the recent Leadership At Its Best® (LAIB) program that brought together representatives from Canadian grower and industry organizations in March 2023.
Hosted by Syngenta Canada in partnership with Ivey Business School at Western University, LAIB is an interactive program designed to enhance leadership throughout Canada’s agricultural industry. Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association (WCWGA) board member, Carl Stewart, participated in the program that included sixteen representatives from nine national and provincial agricultural organizations. WCWGA member, Danyka Maurer, also took part.
“The skills I developed through the leadership program will allow me to communicate more strategically when we meet with government to discuss policy,” says Stewart, director on the WCWGA board. “I was most impressed with how the program promotes cohesion within the ag industry. I got the chance to meet and make relationships with people from multiple agricultural organizations across Canada who I can call on for feedback on new policies and regulations.”
The LAIB program is a strategic organizational leadership program for Canada’s grower and industry associations that is designed to help individuals and the organization succeed in today’s complex operating environment.
Syngenta Canada has been delivering LAIB to association board members and senior staff since 2005 and now counts more than 360 Canadian agriculture leaders as graduates. Along with WCWGA, program participants represented Alberta Pulse Growers, Alberta Wheat and Barley Commission, the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Manitoba Canola Growers, Pulse Canada, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, and Soy Canada.
Leslie Smejkal, Government and Industry Relations Manager for Syngenta Canada, explains that Canadian agricultural organizations are increasingly spending more time managing advocacy, issues management and government relations. “That’s one of the reasons why the LAIB program emphasized issues management and government relations workshops, in addition to leadership, collaboration, media and communications training,” says Smejkal. “We’re proud to provide this program because we all have a shared interest in realizing the sector’s potential to act and work together creatively and collaboratively to support our growers and to secure food for Canadians.”
Hon. Wayne Easter, former Member of Parliament and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Richard Fadden, former Deputy Minister of National Defence of Canada, were invited to support the LAIB government relations session. Participants had the opportunity to lobby for a mock advocacy campaign, receiving feedback and instruction on advocacy tactics and messaging. This was the first LAIB training Hon. Easter was involved in, who said he was very impressed with the program and the diversity of participants.
“I’m always interested in helping people get involved in policy,” says Hon. Easter, noting the value of enhancing leadership abilities and learning new approaches to influence decision-makers in today’s agricultural industry. “The program’s focus on building relations across the country within the policy sphere and the investment in future relationships and opportunities for Canadian agriculture is especially important.”
The complexity of today’s industry issues cannot be addressed by any one individual, company, or organization alone. “Canadian agriculture needs strong leaders who understand the value of collaboration and have the skills to share resources to come together in unique ways to address these issues,” says Christina Stroud, head, corporate affairs for Syngenta Canada. “We’re proud to facilitate Leadership At Its Best, investing in the future of our industry.”