Social change through Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles – Part 2: Congruence

Learn how the principles of 4-H relate to congruence.

In the first article of this collection, “Introduction to the Social Change Model for Leadership Development,” we introduced the seven C’s that help frame the Social Change Model of Leadership Development from three different levels: individual values, group values and societal or community values. This next set of articles will further explain each of the seven C’s, how they fit with the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles, and share some Michigan 4-H examples of programming, activities or probing questions you could exercise to engage youth in the Social Change Model of Leadership Development.

To learn more about the Social Change Model of Leadership Development and the seven C’s, check out “A Social Change Model of Leadership Development” by the Higher Education Research Institute.

The first three C’s of the model—consciousness of self, congruence and commitment—are specifically related to individual values. Let’s discuss congruence as it relates to the Michigan 4-H guiding principles.

Congruence is in reference to the consistent way you treat others. Being genuine, authentic and honest towards others takes continued open-mindedness in you personal thoughts and feelings. A congruent person is one that is consistent and firm in their consciousness of self. These two C’s are interdependent. Regular, practiced actions for engaging with others is the second C of the Social Change Model for Leadership Development: congruence.

Congruence is directly tied to the first Michigan 4-H Guiding Principle: youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers. Michigan 4-H defines this principle as sustained relationships with peers and adults that nurture positive youth development. Some general elements of effectively practicing this guiding principle and helping youth develop the first two C’s of the Social Change Model are:

  • Participants are available to one another for information, guidance and support.
  • The development of positive, meaningful relationships that foster a sense of belonging and connectedness over time is encouraged and supported.
  • Individuals consistently and actively engage with one another during activities and experiences.
  • Cooperative experiences that build trust and foster honest and open communication are developed and supported.

There are many ways Michigan 4-H helps youth develop congruence through positive relationship building. One of the great strengths of 4-H is it offers a space for youth throughout a community to come together in a common activity. As a part of leadership programming, Michigan 4-H offers facilitated trainings on icebreakers and team building that help youth develop trusting relationships with one another, build group bonds and establish a collective standard for engagement within the group.

Here are two examples of related 4-H leadership activities:

  • Ground rules and shared expectations. Though congruence is an individual C in the Social Change Model, it directly impacts the way you engage with others. One way to start building congruence within individuals of a group is to have each person brainstorm the qualities, characteristics or “rules” they believe to be most important to their individual success. Then, have each individual share with the group and work to build a common list of shared expectations everyone agrees to adhere to.
  • Learning names. While it may sound simple and a little obvious, the best place to start is helping participants learn each others’ names and interests. Asking each member to practice some consciousness of self to identify what are their most poignant passions is a great place to start. You can group individuals into two concentric circles, facing one another, and then introduce themselves to their partner in the opposite circle using their name and passions. Rotate the circles and have participants introduce themselves to multiple partners to help youth get to know one another. Conclude by having youth self-determine groups by passion area.

Another great example of the overlap between this Michigan 4-H guiding principle and the Social Change Model for Leadership Development is Michigan 4-H facilitated Real Colors training. Through a self-assessment, dialogue and fun activities, Michigan 4-H staff help teens build an understanding of their dominant personality traits and how they can harness those traits and strengths to develop congruence for engaging with others in collaborative, understanding ways.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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