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The trail to leadership

13 June 2024

Key points:

  • It’s okay to ask for support and to be unsure about completing new tasks.
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone is important for growth.
  • Know when you’ve given enough and when it’s time to focus on you, so you can give back more in the long run.

As one of the participants in the recent Training Rural Australians in Leadership (TRAIL) program, Megan Krause has learned how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

“You don’t really recognise how much you’ve been staying in your comfort zone in your day-to-day life – it can be really easy to think you’re challenging yourself when you’re actually not,” she said following the session in March.  

Megan is the current Assistant Livestock Manager at ‘Sandalwood, Darling Downs, Queensland. Having previously completed several other leadership programs such as Australian Lot Feeders’ Association’s (ALFA) Managing People and Margins Program and Ignite Leadership delivered by Women of Lot Feeding, Megan hoped that the TRAIL program would continue to help develop her skillset through new challenges.

The TRAIL program has been created by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation to help foster leadership through a cross-sector and challenge-based program. Over seven days, participants complete the program based in the Canberra region. Each year the ALFA and Meat & Livestock Australia support professionals from the feedlot industry to attend the program by providing a sponsored position for the program.

Support provides self-confidence

Megan identifies herself as a quiet leader, but she now knows that her leadership still provides value in a team environment through working with others.

“I tend to be a softly spoken person…I am not the type of leader who always has to be at the front of the pack or anything like that.”

Through growing connections with the other participants, she said that she found self-confidence in her leadership style thanks to the support of others.

“Having the other participants support me and encourage me to stay true to how I want to be as a person and as a leader helped me to stay confident in myself. Just knowing that the way I choose to lead has value in a team environment and in my everyday life was a great feeling.”

Megan (right) found self-confidence through the support of others.

Pushing through your comfort zone

After the program, Megan realised the value of pushing through your comfort zone.

“Learning to push through my comfort zone was one of the most important things for me. Being put into tough situations during the program, like abseiling down a cliff (which really terrified me), forced me to push through what I found comfortable.”

“I found it very empowering to acknowledge that you need your network's support in these kinds of situations and be happy and comfortable with the fact that sometimes you do need to ask for help or for support.”

Learning to be comfortable with asking for help and that it is okay to be unsure when completing tasks is another lesson Megan took away from her time in the program.

“You can take away a lot from what you’re feeling. Realising that it's okay to ask for help and that it’s also okay to be unsure when trying something new was important for me. Even if you don’t succeed or finish a task, the important thing is that you’ve identified a challenge and made an attempt.”

Lessons for life

Reflecting on her time in the program, Megan said she feels more confident to back herself when it comes to making decisions and encourages the same in her team members.

“I think the lessons from the program are going to help me back what I truly believe and help me to stand my ground with decisions that I know, in my gut, are right. I would always encourage the same in my team members, even if they wouldn’t identify themselves as a leader. It’s important that they can have confidence in themselves and the decisions they need to make.”

When asked what she would say to someone who may be sitting on the fence about participating in the program, Megan’s response was, “I would tell them to just do it, don’t hesitate and to go in with an open mind.”

She said the growth that you get out of the program is transferrable to every part of your life, professional and personal.

“By the end of the program, I learnt very helpful tools to be able to continue developing my goals in real-life situations. I’ve started to make progress on this and have also been encouraging others to do the same.

“It’s important to promote self-awareness, know when you’ve given enough and when you need to focus on yourself so that in the long run, you can give back to a role the best you can.”

Applications are currently open for the 2025 TRAIL program, and applications for the ALFA and MLA sponsored position can be submitted here