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Archive for October, 2011


The Little Hamlet That Could…

Posted by: in Central East, Uncategorized

I had the opportunity to visit the wonderful hamlet of Torrington last week. If you haven’t been there I highly recommend stopping by and checking out the Gopher Hole Museum that features stuffed gophers posed in a series of 47 anthropomorphic scenes, from a hair dresser; to a preacher; to an RCMP officer. The entire town has a gopher theme that is demonstrated through the largest gofer and fire hydrants painted as gophers. It is all very cute.

Aside from the gophers, Torrington’s other large attraction is the people. There is an incredible sense of community that is demonstrated by how they work together to achieve common goals. For example, individual families have no need to set up and promote their own garage sale. Instead they hold town garage sales that attract people from surrounding communities. The sense of community can also be noted by how groups including the Torrington Wellness Centre, the Lions Club, Lioness Club and the Torrington Enhancement Committee work together out of the Community Hall.

Clearly, the residents of Torrington have built on the skill of Relationship Building from the A.S.K. Leadership Assessment Framework. They not only work together within the hamlet but they work with all of the other communities in Kneehill County to offer and partake of services needed such as learning opportunities offered by the Kneehill Adult Learning Centre in Three Hills.

I liken the community within Torrington to a gopher town. According to, gopher towns can stretch for vast distances through mountainous terrain and often contain thousands of gopher residents. Like gopher towns, the residents within Torrington also stretch out and share their skills and resources with others in surrounding areas.

I am currently in the works of setting up a workshop in Three Hills and hope to see many people in the vast gopher town (AKA Kneehill County). Stay tuned for more details!

Victoria Poschadel | 780.945.6134 |

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Using Coaching to Lead, a Learning Opportunity

Posted by: in North West

I have a tendency to bump Self-Awareness and Development (one of the KnowledgeConnector’s 6 A.S.K. Leadership Competencies) down on the priority list – some may say its procrastination – there is always something more important on the life/work “to-do list”.

This month I am putting myself at the top of the priority list (or at least in the top three…) and making a conscious effort to work towards a better balanced work-life, not sure what the actual vision is or where it might take me but I have given myself permission to create a learning challenge.

I guess what speared me to action was the ACE retreat that I had attended two weeks ago (check out my post on Oct. 14th).

I had an opportunity to participate in a Leadership West Yellowhead cohosted by Grande Cache Community Adult Learning “Coaching to Lead Workshop” facilitated by Loie Unwin. This workshop was a perfect introduction for anyone wanting to learn more about taking the Coach Approach to improve their communication in the workplace, the community and at home. The Coach Approach teaches you two key skills – listening and asking the right questions.
Guaranteed to change your conversation in the community, workplace and at home.

So what did I get out of it or learn you ask? Well it reaffirmed that I need to make or take more to actually listen and slow down and the “coach approach” is not necessarily a new tool for my toolbox but it provided me with a different approach in working and dealing with people in my work and personal life (moments of self-reflection).  Many of us are C.P.A’s when dealing with people (continuous, partial, attention – yet another acronym).  I hate to admit it but I had become one of them and now it us up to me to work on improving that skill and using it

I have caught the “learning bug” and I am curious to see what’s next on my learning plan.

I challenge you to update your learning plan by checking out KnowledgeConnector to view the list of learning opportunities available in your region

Here are some great resources to follow up with for the “Coach Approach”:

  • Coaching that Counts, by Dianna & Merrill Anderson
  • 365 Coaching Questions, by Hendren, Rupert & Richarde
  • Coaching Outside the Box

Also if you currently reside in the West Yellowhead Region, check out Leadership West Yellowhead 2012 Program Guide, they are now accepting registrations for the new program year.

Here is to Life Long Learning…

Yvonne Rempel | 780.827-1464 |

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Going off the Grid

Posted by: in North West

How did we ever get along or communicate with one another before cell/smart phones. We really do rely on technology to keep connected. I am guilty like many others to text or email someone instead of picking up the phone, it is an easier, convenient  and less informal process of communicating (someone may even call it lazy). The convenience of staying connected 24 / 7. I catch myself checking my smart phone emails all day and before bed and even when you cannot sleep I can be found working on the computer or smart phone.  You really can work all day or night long. 

So when my friends asked if I would be interested in going to Las Vegas for a “girls getaway” I hesitated at first but since I have never been to Vegas, I said yes. What about KnowledgeConnector, kept running through my mind.

Fast forward to October 14th day of departure (needless to say that I have been living out of a suitcase for the last two months) and I have just got home  from yet another work related road trip and was working until midnight the night before on completing a varied “to do” check list  (did I forget to mention that I am a constant procrastinator and that I do my best work under pressure). I was feeling guilty that I was leaving on a five-day “fun” trip. I am great at multitasking as well, so on the ride to the airport I read my mail and three weeks of local newspapers, sent various emails and made a couple of calls all before boarding the plane. Once on the plane you are asked to turn off all cellular or electronic devices and sit back and relax and enjoy the flight. Well that is where it all sank in – I am actually taking time for myself and going on a holiday.

For the next five days, we laughed, shopped, sight-saw, ate, gambled (not well), sat by the pool, and went to an Elton John concert (FABULOUS!!) and never once thought to turn on my phone or check my emails at the business center – I was off the Grid. I had an opportunity to relax and enjoy my surroundings with my BF’s. What a great feeling!

Back on home soil I turned on my phone, I had 203 emails waiting to be answered and 15 texts to deal with, one word that describes that feeling is overwhelming. It has taken me a day to get back into the swing of things and get back to routine. So for the next couple of days I will be playing “catch up” but in the end it was well worth it – thank you Donna and Helen,  Where are we going next year? 

The lesson I learned from all this is that we need to take time to personally reconnect with people,  to build face-to-face relationships and not be afraid to pick up the phone a call someone instead of using our computer or phone. Life is too short, enjoy the moments that life presents you even if is for a couple of days, we deserve it…

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Engaging and Educating Your Board Members

Posted by: in Central East, Uncategorized

Have you ever noticed that many smaller scale nonprofit/voluntary organizations always have a group of very dedicated members? They also seem do everything themselves without much outside support. Likely, many do not think there are many easily accessible and affordable resources at their disposal. Well, fret no more for Culture and Community Spirit offers an abundance of training opportunities to help your board reach its potential. Here are three great examples right from their website.


Board Development Program workshops cover a variety of issues in six thematic areas (modules):

  • Ethical and legal aspects of board membership
  • Roles and responsibilities in the organization
  • Policy development
  • Organizing and directing the board’s work using committees
  • Managing the work of the organization
  • Building a better board

Resource Materials

The Board Development Program develops resources for the not-for-profit sector.

  • Information Bulletins
  • Professionally produced by BDP staff or consultants who are experts in their fields
  • Suggestions for information bulletin topics come from clients and from experience in working with not-for-profit boards
  • Targeted at the not-for-profit audience
  • PDF versions of the BDP Information Bulletins
  • Bulletins d’information en français


Not-for-profit boards and board members are facing an amazing array of challenges. Often, connecting with a knowledgeable source can solve a problem or lead in the direction of information that helps clarify a situation a board is facing.

The Board Development Program’s staff takes pride in the work it does with clients looking for solutions to their board governance challenges. Some of the consultations will lead to more formal involvement with the BDP through workshops, but often individuals are best served by having the staff make appropriate and direct referrals.

There best part is that there is no cost to individuals or groups for their consultation services. If you have questions about board governance issues, please do not hesitate to contact the Board Development Program staff at 780-427-2001 or You can also, of course, contact me to book a Leadership Assessment Workshop to identify your board’s leadership skills and be connected with other learning opportunities near you. Until next time….

Victoria Poschadel | p: 780.945.6134 | e:


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Building Community Capacity with 100 Cups of Coffee

Posted by: in North West

As I sit here at the computer after unpacking my suitcase from yet another successful road trip and now I want to share with you what I have been up to for the last couple of days.

Wow! I just attended a fabulous ACE Communities Retreat (active, creative, engaged) on Community Leadership, at the Sanctum Retreat just outside of Rocky Mountain House. They take the retreat to a whole another level, limited internet and cell phone access; a real get-a-way (a little nervous at first not to be able to connect to the outside world, but that feeling was short-lived). We had a real opportunity to share and discuss building community capacity with little or no distractions.

I had introduced you to ACE Communities  in one of my earlier blogs and asked you to stayed tuned on the ACE Cultural Diversity Project and that I would keep you posted on my “journey” as this project moves forward. My new BF’s are from Jasper, Rocky Mountain House, Carstairs and of course Grande Cache, not to mention the great facilitators.

Both ACE and KnowledgeConnector focus on building community capacity, so how do they compare?

We already know from KnowledgeConnector that good leaders are essential to the growth and sustainability of rural communities and it is important that these leaders are linked to ongoing learning opportunities to develop their attitudes, skills and knowledge. The leadership framework  for KnowledgeConnector revolves around 6 main competencies: big picture thinking, strategic thinking, relationship building, self-awareness & development, planning & organizing and management & governance. All relevent in building community capacity.

ACE philosophy of building community  capacity revolves around 6 competencies as well required for community leaders committed to building active, creative and engaged communities. They are:

  • agent of change – understands and demonstrates and exerts influence by building trusting relationships
  • committment to continuous improvement – practices ongoing personal and professional growth development
  • big picture thinker – utilizes a proactive system thinking/holistic approach
  • catalyst for citizen responsibility – places a priority on engaging and cultivating community ownership and responsibility
  • quality of life advocate – has the ability to work proactively to promote recreation, parks, sports, arts, culture and heritage services that deliver essential benefits
  • community development practices – applies community planning strategies

With ACE communities the role of the community leader takes on a different meaning and with an emphasis on citizen involvement, maximizing community resources, facilitating decision-making, planning and developing policies; all geared towards implementing growth and change in ones community.

The two main key points that I took away from this community development training was 1) Social Investment in your community and 2) Social Change with economic impact.

Each community has been given the task of coordinating a local team to come up with a “plan” to IGNITE and embrace Cultural Diversity through community development. ACE Communities will be coaching us and providing support and guidance step by step as we go through the 6 competencies to develop and implement short-term and long-term goals for our communities.

The first step in this plan for me as a community leader is to engage my community. So how am I going to do that? Back to the grassroots idea of  face-to-face. Hence 100 cups of coffee…. Stay tuned.

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Building Community Capacity: One Leader at a Time

Posted by: in Central East, Global News, Uncategorized

Here at KnowledgeConnector we like to say that we build community capacity in rural Alberta by connecting leaders in the nonprofit/voluntary sector with leadership development opportunities.

But what exactly is community capacity? To me, Community Capacity Building is all about helping residents in a community reach their potential so that collectively, they can work together to create a community that has stronger economics, a better quality of life, and a nurturing environment for families and individuals.

Now building community capacity most definitely sounds like a lofty goal for one project to take on. But when I stop and use my developing Big Picture Thinking leadership skill, I am in awe of the potential. You see, the KnowledgeConnector team really only plays a little part in this. We are here to simply facilitate change by helping leaders see their strengths and reach for their potential.

For example, as a Regional Capacity Coordinator, I build relationships with individuals and groups within my region. Today, I will be going to Bashaw, Alix and Big Valley. Three smaller towns in the Central East Alberta that have a variety of nonprofit/voluntary organizations that makes up the core of these communities. I have the opportunity to visit the representatives of these organizations and offer them to facilitate an ASK Assessment Workshop for their organization or community. Then, I can tell them, based on the results of the workshop, what leadership development priorities they should focus on. Then I can connect with learning opportunities to fill their learning gaps. Then, it is all up to YOU.

That’s right, we can motivate, inspire and educate, but at the end of the day it is all up to you. Each individual leader we speak with needs to take ownership over their learning. We just make it a whole lot easier.

So, what are you waiting for, take the ASK Leadership Assessment online or through a workshop in your area. Already did that? Then tailor your learning plan based on your results and use our super friendly one-stop-shop hub of learning opportunities close to you. As your Regional Capacity Coordinator I will do what I can to motivate, inspire and educate you to take your leadership skill set to the next level.

Give me a shout to help me help YOU build community capacity in your area, one leader at a time.

Victoria Poschadel | | 780.945.6134

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Take a coffee break….

Posted by: in Central West, North West

Writing a weekly blog is an ongoing challenge for me; coming up with creative ideas, words of wisdom and witt to share with my readers.  I am easily distracted when I work from home when I feel it is time for a coffee break. So this time, I headed off to my local coffee shop for inspiration and a large lactose free latte.

Did you know that most of the world problems are solved around a table with a cup a coffee. Like clockwork (you can set your watch by it) people gather at their local coffee shop and sit around the same table, sit in the same chair with the same people, for some the tradition has occurred for over 35 years. Every person at the table has an opinion regarding politics or religion and some may go as far as contributing to local gossip.

There is value in “coffee shop talk”, as it is all about building relationships. In many cases those relationships have been fostered and nurtured by something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee. To know more about how you can make your coffee break better visit

So this week I have chosen to highlight relationship building, in order to better understand the self assessment competencies in the online A.S.K. Assessment ( I have to admit this is my the strongest skill area.

Relationship Building

A relationship is a connection between individuals or groups of people based on mutual understanding or a common bond. Relationships are strengthened when there is accountability to each other and a desire to work through difficult situations. Every relationship needs to be fostered and nurture. The 6 key areas are:

  • Collaboration and Team Development: The ability to teach team members collaboration skills like teamwork, loyalty, accountability, and mutual respect.
  • Inclusion and Diversity: The ability to consider diverse points of view when making decisions and taking action. The ability to be sensitive to different cultures.
  • Influencing and Advocacy: The ability to be an advocate for the organization and its members, and influence decisions that will support the organizational values and priorities.
  • Interpersonal Communication: The ability to encourage and use a broad range of communication skills, such as active listening and effectively giving and receiving feedback.
  • Dispute Resolution, Facilitation and Negotiation: The ability to understand the causes of conflict in the organization.  The
    ability to suggest alternative solutions to conflict so that everyone wins.  The ability to use various facilitation and negotiation skills to solve problems.
  • Community Engagement: To collaborate with the community to address issues that may affect the organization’s ability to accomplish its goals.

My friend Donna (NE Region) commented that “sometimes taking a simpler approach when completing the Assessment provides the clearest insight into your leadership skills”.

So, as you go through and fill out the A.S.K. Assessment, read the statements carefully,  and assess your self honestly.  The assessment can leave you feeling good about yourself, while at the same time help you with your learning plan (Thanks again Donna for the words of wisdom)

Always remember to take a coffee break, lifelong learning comes in many forms.

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Self Awareness and Learning to Say “No”

Posted by: in Central East, Uncategorized

I had the great opportunity of visiting the Village of Holden last night. I held an ASK Leadership Assessment workshop and was able to work with the big movers and shakers of this urban village. There was not one attendee who wasn’t heavily involved with more than three organizations. Yes, you read that right, every one of them is highly engaged in their community. So much so, that one of the common learning goals among the group, was to learn how to say no.

With a population of only 398 there is a lot of action in this Village. Here are just a few of the organizations and initiatives that were represented at the workshop. From this list you may guess why the group of 7 last night don’t have much capacity left for too much else!

For such a small Village I definitely saw a huge sense of community, organization and drive. Not only that, the group was all very hardworking and excited to enhance their leadership skills. They are all so hard-working and polite that none of them would ever want to disappoint and turn a volunteer job down.

I was glad they took the opportunity to participate in an A.S.K. Leadership Assessment workshop because the learning goal many had set at the beginning of the workshop came shining through once the assessments were complete. What leadership competency does “saying no” relate to? Self Awareness. Donna from the North East region said, ‘by saying no we are admitting we understand our limitations and when we have reached a limit…this is why we often hear about people wanting to take control by learning to say “no”! 

A great learning opportunity that builds self-awareness is being offered through the HR Council for Nonprofits. To find out about this self-awareness tool called 360 Feedback click here. If you would like to book a workshop with me to discover your leadership learning priorities give me a shout!  

Victoria Poschadel | p. 780.945.6134 | e.

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