Meeting the development needs of regional, rural and remote leaders

As someone who has lived in big cities and regional areas I can tell you there is a big difference in the way you garden depending on your location.

That was brought home to me recently when I visited Cairns. As you can see from this picture the plants that grow there are quite different to what you find 1,700kms south in my home city of Brisbane. Many a gardener has been caught out trying to use methods that just aren’t suited to this tropical climate.

I regularly work with leaders in regional, rural and remote locations in not only Australia but also throughout the Asia Pacific region. I find that many organisations also get caught out trying to use the same development methods across all locations and find they just don’t work.

A common scenario is that the regional, rural and remote leaders are required to travel long distances to attend development programs in the city. Whilst there are some benefits to this strategy, such as helping them feel included and allowing them to educate others about their unique situation, it can create barriers to success. Being away from their team for an extended period can cause them stress as can being away from their family. Many people choose to live outside of cities and find it unpleasant to spend time in them. Then there is the content, which is often more suited to someone operating in an urban environment and doesn’t take into account the specific needs of non city leaders.

Other scenarios I have seen fail to work include only offering online training, which neglects to take into account slower Internet speeds in the country areas. Of course these are better than offering nothing at all, which is too frequently the case. Decisions are often made based on cost or logistics rather than what will create the best outcome. If anything your regional, rural and remote leaders need more development as they are usually operating under less supervision and access to assistance is limited.

This issue is so important I have made it one of the 40 items on my Leadership Development Stocktake. So what is the solution? Well, I have a few thoughts on this:

  • Ask your regional, rural and remote leaders what they need in the program … sounds simple but is rarely done
  • Design a program that is tailored to their needs
  • Have a customised section of the main program that is specifically for regional, rural and remote leaders
  • Conduct parts of the program in different locations to give urban leaders new insights
  • Ensure the program facilitators have experience in working with regional, rural and remote areas

Karen Schmidt from Let’s Grow! is the frontline leadership expert who helps organisations grow their frontline leaders so they perform better, which improves team productivity, giving senior leaders peace of mind.

To learn about her Practical Leadership Development model visit To book her to speak at your next event visit

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