LSU AgCenter training managers for the future

(08/25/22) ALEXANDRIA, La. — The LSU AgCenter realizes that good leaders are made, not born, and with that in mind is offering a Management Development Institute for interested employees.

The Management Development Institute is designed to cultivate and enhance the culture of learning and development within the LSU AgCenter and College of Agriculture, said Ashley Gautreaux, AgCenter human resources director.

“MDI develops core competencies to enhance knowledge and broad perspectives of leadership within the AgCenter’s and College of Agriculture’s emerging leaders,” she said. “MDI will provide opportunities for participants to interact and build relationships with others.”

At the July session in Alexandria, AgCenter administrators discussed the importance of culture and community in leadership.

Gina E. Eubanks, associate vice president of the AgCenter, told the group there are no more silos within the AgCenter.

“We have to collectively bring our skills to the table,” she said. “People are different, but we all have something to contribute.”

To be successful in the program, applicants should be willing to learn and support others with their strengths and to learn from others.

AgCenter graphic designer Roxanne Hare, a member of the inaugural class of the institute, said the experience has been very eye opening for her.

“We have 16 people in the class, and we all had to apply almost like applying for a job,” she said. “The sessions so far have included communication strategies, developing leadership skills for managing others, performance and productivity, employee development and culture and community.”

Topics for upcoming sessions include basic principles of human resource management, finance and budgeting, information technology, communications and strategic planning and analysis.

The goals of the program are to develop or enhance competency, skills and behaviors related to administrative operations within the AgCenter and College of Agriculture; to expand the capacity for individuals to perform in leadership roles; to build organizational alignment; and to develop the capabilities of others.

“At the beginning of each session, three members of the class introduce themselves and tell what they do for the AgCenter,” Hare said. “So, this really gives us a chance to meet new people and also, it helps to understand what other people do in the AgCenter.”

Hare said MDI has employed the Birkman assessment, which is a personality test, as a big part of the training sessions.

“The assessment has been very enlightening because it helps you learn a lot about yourself,” she said.

Monica Guient, assistant vice president for diversity, inclusion and opportunity, said her sentiments are reflected in the words of a now unknown author. The quote states, “The path to diversity begins with supporting, mentoring and sponsoring diverse women and men to become leaders and entrepreneurs.”

Guient said the Management Development Institute is a unique opportunity for the AgCenter and the College to foster and leverage the diverse talent within the organization.

“Our participants enhance skills and learn principles to manage and support inclusive teams that work in one of the largest industries in the state — agriculture,” Guient said

The AgCenter Management Development Institute leadership team is comprised of AgCenter employees, Ashley Gautreaux; Bobby Soileau, director of Ag Leadership; Monica Guient; and Brandi Frey, the training specialist.

Gautreaux said the current cohort will complete the 10-part series in December.

“We hope to be able to fine tune the program with knowledge gained from our first-year experiences and continue to offer the development opportunity for AgCenter and College of Ag faculty and staff in 2023,” she said.

Panel sitting at a table.

Administrators discuss culture and community with members of the first class of the LSU AgCenter’s Management Development Institute during a recent training session in Alexandria. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

8/25/2022 6:51:59 PM
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