Why do some country towns survive and thrive, while others decline and die?
According to research at the University of Adelaide, effective leadership at the local level plays a key role in the prosperity of country towns and regions. And for the first time, researchers have defined the necessary ingredients for leadership to succeed in rural areas.
“How leadership is generated and how people create their own futures is of great importance to the economic prosperity and social fabric of regional centres,” says Professor Andrew Beer, Director of the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning (CHURP)
at the University of Adelaide.
Professor Beer is lead author of two papers that are aimed at mapping the role of leadership and how country towns can take control of their futures.
“By better understanding the elements of leadership and how it can work effectively, we’re presenting a template for any rural community that, we believe, will benefit them in the longer term,” he says.
Key characteristics of successful rural leadership includes:
- Financial independence – such as a farmer or land owner
- Community assets – such as trust and local knowledge
- Willingness to collaborate to achieve success
- Developing and supporting a shared understanding of what is in the best interests for a community
- A global outlook – a sense of how the community fits into the bigger picture
- Having the time to perform leadership roles
He says that while parts of Australia’s rural landscape are being abandoned, other areas are looking to the future and making plans that will see them thrive.
“For some towns, their economic future is still very much tied to agriculture, but there are other towns that have decided to create a future independent of agriculture, and in some cases this has been very successful,” Professor Beer says.
Professor Beer’s papers on leadership and rural communities can be found on the CHURP website.