What Cooperative Extension People Value in Their Managerial Leaders


Presented by--


Buck Joseph, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Management

Executive Education


Ramon J. Aldag, Ph.D., Pyle Distinguished Professor of Leadership

Department of Management and Human Resources

The School of Business

University of Wisconsin-Madison



Presented to—



Participants of the

Department Heads Annual Conference

Cooperative Extension

University of Wisconsin Extension

Mosinee, Wisconsin



Thursday, March 2, 2000




Preferred Leadership Values in Wisconsin's Cooperative Extension





Table of Contents















What Cooperative Extension People Value

in Their Managerial Leaders





A core component of a managerial-leadership philosophy consists of the values the organization wishes its leaders at all levels to live out. Organizations ranging from Hewlett-Packard to The Body Shop to the United States Army all have defined clear codes of values that serve as selection criteria, form the foundation of the training and development their leaders receive, and provide guides to their behavior.[1]


The executive leaders of Cooperative Extension of University of Wisconsin-Extension wish to delegate authority and responsibility for problem solving and decision making to the lowest possible level, keeping with their philosophy of servant leadership.[2] To that end, through their District Directors, they are empowering Cooperative Extension’s 72 Department Heads to lead and manage their units efficiently and effectively.


But what values should these Department Heads exhibit in their leadership and managerial activities? What values do the people in Cooperative Extension—administration, faculty, academic staff, support staff, and NEP administrators—wish their leaders to exhibit at all levels of the organization?


This study was conducted to answer those questions.



Based on research regarding leadership values[3], we designed a one-page pencil-and-paper survey and pretested it in late-December 1999 with District Directors and Department Heads from the Central District. The instrument is attached. Following refinements, it was then administered by Department Heads and other administrators to all members of Cooperative Extension. Six hundred surveys were distributed. Data were collected during January and early February 2000. Of the 600 sent out, 540 were completed and returned, yielding an impressive response rate of 90%. Of the 540, 17 responses had to be eliminated due to missing data. Five surveys came in too late to be included in the analysis. Thus, we ended with 518 usable responses.




1.         What values emerged as most and least preferred by Cooperative Extension people?


Whereas each of the values on the list of 20 received at least some top votes, the following values earned the most favor:






Honest (trustworthy, truthful, reliable)



Competent (capable, qualified, skillful, effective)



Fair-minded (just, objective unbiased)



Broad-minded (open, flexible, receptive)



Dependable (reliable, conscientious)



Supportive (helpful, championing, comforting)



Forward-looking (visionary, future-oriented)




The following, although all important, were rated as least preferred:







(brave, bold, daring)



Independent (self-reliant, autonomous, original)



Ambitious (aspiring, eager, venturesome)



Mature (seasoned, experienced, wise)



Loyal (faithful, constant, steadfast)



Self-controlled (emotionally even, self-disciplined)



Imaginative (creative, innovative, inventive)





2.              Do these value preferences tend to go together or cluster?


Yes, factor analysis indicates that Cooperative Extension personnel tended to group the following value preferences. For clarity, we created category labels as follows:


                      Items                                                                     Label


Dependable + Honest + Loyal =                                         Good Citizen


Broadminded + Forward-looking +

Imaginative + Inspiring =                                                    Visionary


Caring + Cooperative + Supportive  =                               Socially Supportive


Ambitious  + Dedicated =                                                    Career-minded


Fair-minded + Straightforward =                                       Open-minded


Competent + Intelligent

+ Mature + Self-controlled =                                              Emotionally Stable



3.         How did Cooperative Extension personnel rank the clusters?


     Cluster                                   Ranking                   Score[4]               Difference


Good Citizen                                     1                           2,350


Open-minded                                                2                           2,192                      158


Socially Supportive                          3                           2,189                          3


Visionary                                           4                           2,173                        16


Emotionally Stable                          5                           2,132                        41


Career-minded                                 6                           1,723                      409


These rankings and differences in scale scores indicate not only that Good Citizen is most important but also that the next four are all quite close to one another in importance. Career-minded is the only exception, being a clear least preference.


4.         Are differences in rankings associated with differences in such factors as--


a.              Program Area: Yes, several statistically-significant differences were found to exist in the ranking of the following values by program area (Agriculture/Natural Resources. Family Living, CNRED, 4-H/Youth Development, and Non-affiliated), as measured by MANOVA and multiple-regression tests:

Broad-minded, Courageous, Dependable, Forward-looking, Honest, Imaginative, and Straightforward


(1)       CNRED representatives rated broad-minded, courage, forward-looking, and imaginative more highly than did representatives from Agriculture/Natural Resources, Family Living, and 4-H/Youth Development.


(2)       Regarding dependable, Family Living and 4-H rated it highest; CNRED the lowest. Ag and Family Living rated honesty the highest; Agriculture /Natural Resources rated straightforward highest.



b.              Base: Yes, but just two significant differences were noted.


(1)  County-based personnel rated ambitious as more important than did             their campus-based peers.

(2)  Campus-based personnel rated courageous as more important than their county-based peers.



c.              Classification: Ten significant differences in value preferences were found to exist among the various groups that comprise Cooperative Extension (administration, academic staff, faculty, NEP educators, and support staff) especially regarding the following:


Cooperative, Courageous, Dependable, Forward-looking, Inspiring, Loyal, and Supportive


(1)       Support staff and NEP educators value cooperative more highly than do faculty and administration; faculty and administration value courageous more highly than do support staff and NEP educators.


(2)       Administrators and faculty value forward-looking and inspiring much more so than do support staff and NEP educators. The latter two groups prefer loyal and supportive more than do the other groups.


d.              Gender: Nine significant differences in value preferences were found to be associated with differences in gender. The most significant were—


Caring, Cooperative, Courageous, Dependable, Forward-looking, Imaginative, Straightforward, and Supportive


Women indicated higher preferences for caring, cooperation, dependable, and supportive; men, for courageous, forward-looking, imaginative, and straightforward.


We performed additional analyses, including MANCOVA, to examine whether these apparent gender differences were due to the differing program areas, bases, or classifications of respondents.  For example, apparent gender differences may really reflect the fact that males and females are in different sorts of jobs, with correspondingly different constituents, histories, constraints, and expectations. There were some interactions of gender with job dimensions. For example, campus-based women rated courageous as more important that did campus-based men, while county-based women rated courageous as less important than did county-based men. However, the original findings regarding gender were found to be generally robust. That is, differences were evident (though somewhat weaker) even after controlling for potential confounds.



e.              Age: Six significant differences regarding value preferences were found to be associated with age:


Ambitious, Broad-minded, Dedicated, Fair-minded, Forward-looking and Intelligent


(1)  Age was found to be negatively correlated with ambitious, broad-minded, dedicated, and intelligent. That is, the older the participant, the less he or she would prefer those values in a leader.


(2)  Age was also positively correlated with fair-minded and forward-looking, indicating that with increasing age, CE people prefer a fair but visionary leader.


f.               Department-head status: Four significant differences in value preferences were found to be associated with whether the respondent was currently a Department Head. Differences were noted regarding—


Cooperative, Forward-looking, Honest, and Imaginative


Department Heads preferred forward-looking and honesty more so than did non-Department Heads, who preferred cooperative and imaginative more so than did Department Heads.


g.              Years of experience in Cooperative Extension. Experience in Cooperative Extension was found to be significantly associated with only one difference in value preference.


With experience comes a higher value on forward-looking leadership.



5.     Are differences in value-cluster rankings associated with differences in the same demographics?


a.         Program Area: Yes, two statistically significant differences were found to exist in the ranking of value clusters:

(1) Regarding
Good Citizen, Non-affiliated personnel rated this cluster significantly higher than did CNRED.


(2) Regarding Visionary, CNRED rated this cluster higher than did Agriculture/Natural Resources, Family Living, 4-H/Youth Development, and Non-affiliated personnel.


b.         Base: Yes, but just one significant difference was noted.


County-based personnel rated Career-oriented as more important than did their campus-based peers.


c.         Classification: In terms of job classification (CE administration, academic staff, faculty, NEF educators, and support staff), no significant differences were found among rankings of Good Citizen and Open-minded.


We did identify some significant differences in ranking of value clusters among the various groups:


(1)  Regarding Visionary, support staff rated this cluster significantly lower than did academic staff or faculty

(2)  Regarding Socially Supportive, support staff rated this cluster significantly higher than did academic staff and faculty. NEF educators rated it significantly higher than did faculty.

(3)  Regarding Career-oriented, faculty rated it significantly lower than did support staff.

(4)  Regarding Open-minded, faculty rated it significantly higher than did support staff.


d.     Gender: Three significant differences in ranks of value clusters—


Visionary, Socially Supportive, and Open-minded


Women indicated higher preferences for Socially Supportive than did their male counterparts; men preferred Visionary and Open-minded more so than did their female counterparts.


e.     Age: No difference in ranking of value clusters were found to be associated with age:


f.      Department-head status: Only one significant difference in value-cluster preferences was found to be associated with whether the respondent was currently a Department Head:


Non-Department Heads preferred Socially Supportive more so that did Department Heads.


g.     Years of experience in Cooperative Extension. No difference in ranking of value clusters was found as associated with years of experience.





1.         Cooperative Extension administrators, faculty, and staff tend to value the same things in their managerial leaders as people do in business and government from throughout the United States and to a lesser extent in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Comparing the ranking of value preferences of Cooperative Extension people to those of a group of 20,000 people studied worldwide in 1995 and 1987,[5] we found that six of the top seven values were the same on both lists, with honesty leading both. Comparing the lowest preferences, we found that five out of seven appeared on the same lists, with both independent and ambitious among the least four preferred.


People in Cooperative Extension clearly want their managerial leaders to be forward-looking to a degree, but they especially prefer them leaders to demonstrate good ethics and to provide social support. They want their leaders to be honest, competent, fair, open, dependable, and supportive—the same core values espoused by servant leadership. They least prefer their leaders to be courageous (brave, bold, and daring), independent, ambitious, mature, loyal, and self-controlled. CE people want someone they can trust to do the best for others, not for themselves. They want conservative leaders who will serve as stewards for the organization.


2.     Preferences in leadership values differ extensively in relation especially to program area, employment classification, gender, age, and department-head status.


There seems a dynamic tension between two groups. There are those who wish the organization’s leaders to be stable rocks: cooperative, dependable, and supportive. Counterbalancing them are those who prefer forward-looking leaders who are imaginative and visionary. This tension is normal in organizations that are dealing with increasingly turbulent external environments, who are witnessing an end to paternalism and top-down coercion, and whose associates want less threat and more social support from their leaders. It is also common in organizations consisting of administrators, faculty, and academic staff--who want to push the envelope of change--and of support people--who prefer less change, more stability, and more cooperation. Managerial leaders in Cooperative Extension need to embrace rather than be frustrated by this diversity of perspective.


More important than this tension, however, is the bedrock upon which most people agree. What both groups want to see lived out in their leader’s behavior, nevertheless, are the core values of honesty, competence, fairness, and broadmindedness. CE people want their leaders to be Good Citizens above all else.


In the hearts of the people of Cooperative Extension, a deep need exists for their leaders to demonstrate honest, competent, fair, and receptive behavior while moving their organizations forward. They wish to see their leaders act as ethical stewards and servants to the people doing the work. Leaders then serve the double function of first creating and sustaining a stable, secure boat for travel and then navigating it with their crews skillfully through white water. The task is daunting. That’s why leading is usually described as an adventure.


We hope this analysis and discussion provide the leadership of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Extension with general guides to appropriate leadership behavior in dealing with their various stakeholders.


Survey of Preferred Managerial-Leadership Values


Leadership values are people’s enduring beliefs regarding how they wish the leaders of their organizations to conduct themselves ideally.


I.               Please rank the following values according to what you believe should be important to leadership within Wisconsin’s Cooperative Extension.  Read through the following 20 value statements.


·                First, find the one value that you believe is most important and place its number under the 7 column below.

·                Next, find the one value that you believe is least important and place its number under the 1 column below.

·                Proceed to column 6 and place in it the numbers of the two values that you believe are the next most important.

·                Go then to column 2 and select the two that you believe are the next least important.

·                Proceed in this fashion until you have accounted for all the 20 values.


r 1. Ambitious (aspiring, eager, venturous)                                                 r 11. Honest (trustworthy, truthful, reliable)

r 2. Broad-minded (open, flexible, receptive)                                              r 12. Imaginative (creative, innovative, inventive)

r 3. Caring (appreciative, compassionate, concerned)                        r 13. Independent (self-reliant, autonomous, original)

r 4. Competent (capable, qualified, skillful, effective)                                   r 14. Inspiring (enthusiastic, influential)

r 5. Cooperative (helping, hospitable, companionable)                                  r 15. Intelligent (sharp, keen, acute, clever, ingenious)

r 6. Courageous (brave, bold, daring)                                                        r 16. Loyal (faithful, constant, steadfast)

r 7. Dependable (reliable, conscientious)                                                    r 17. Mature (seasoned, experienced, wise)

r 8. Dedicated (devoted, resolute, persistent)                                               r 18. Self-controlled (emotionally even, self-disciplined)

r 9. Fair-minded (just, objective, unbiased)                                                r 19. Straightforward (direct, candid, forthright)

r10.Forward-looking (visionary, future-oriented)                                          r 20. Supportive (helpful, championing, comforting)



1(least important)






7 (most important)



























II. Demographics: please check or complete the appropriate item:


A. Program Area:                                    B. Base:                        D. Gender:                                 E. Age in years:

_____ Ag/Natural Resources                      _____County                  _____ Female                                  __________

_____ Family Living                               _____Campus                 _____ Male

_____ CNRED                                                                                                                           F. Department Head?

_____ 4-H/Youth Development                  C. Classification:                                                                _____Yes

_____ Not applicable                               _____CE Administration                                                 

_____Academic staff        _____ NEP Educator                    G. Years of experience in CE:

_____Faculty                  _____ Support staff                         ___________


[1] Jay A. Conger and Beth Benjamin, Building Leaders: How Successful Companies Develop the Next Generation of Leaders (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999), pp. 79-121.

[2] Peter Block, Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-interest (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1993; Robert K. Greenleaf, The Power of Servant Leadership, ed. Larry C. Spears (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1998).

[3] James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations  (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995), p. 21.


[4] Scores were calculated as follows. Frequencies of ratings were multiplied times magnitude of ratings, yielding a total score per value. Value scores per cluster were then averaged by number of items. An analysis of means shows the same pattern and variation here. The data displayed above adds greater clarity to the differences.

[5] Kouzes and Posner, p. 21.


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