Of Leaders and Influencers
Barbara Lohse, PhD, RDN, President SNEB
Susan Johnson, PhD, Senior Associate Editor, JNEB
“Follow so I may lead” is ironically an apt expression for a new type of leader called an “Influencer.” Typically, influencers generate interest about something through social media, and measure success by the number of followers they have. An influencer is also defined as one who exerts influence, inspiring or guiding the actions of others.1 To us, that means that professional nutrition educators and behaviorists must seek to be influencers, not just with social media followers but with colleagues, collaborators, funders, supervisors and well, the list can go on! Attaining the skill set to accomplish this depends on many factors and since SNEB members represent professionals diverse in age, experience, focus, training, and goals we conducted a membership survey to solicit the interest level in developing leadership skills.
Apparently, this seems to be an important topic since more than 15% of SNEB members responded in a short time. In fact, 89% of respondents were interested or would be interested in skill building or training related to leadership. Slightly more than half (61%) had participated in some leadership training/skill building activities. These included training from WIC, extension, or a university program as well as in-depth training through Robert Wood Johnson, Danone, Harvard Business School or through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. More than half were willing to pay from $1500 to $3000 for some training and 10% would pay more than $3000. Of note is that 25% felt they would be willing to invest in their own development and pay directly for this kind of training and another 35% indicated that the cost would be jointly covered by their employer and themselves.
Respondents selected the full range of options when denoting how much of the training should be tailored to individual development versus a set of core components from which all individuals could benefit. Finally, keen interest was shown in having scholarships available, approval for CEUs and either virtual or a mix of virtual and face-to-face sessions, likely interfacing with the SNEB annual conference. Added comments reinforced the notion that SNEB members would thrive with influential leadership training. We are on the cusp of developing a fantastic opportunity for SNEB members to seize their role as THE influencers of nutrition education and behavior, but we need to hear more to make the program fit. To that end, we invite comments, ideas, and caveats in the comment space below. We need to be influenced!
1.“Influencer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/influencer. Accessed 10 Feb. 2023.