Analysis of Leadership Skills of Extension Agents in the Coffee Sector of Costa Rica Through a Period of Crisis
Brizuela, Sofia de los Angeles
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The COVID-19 pandemic brought consequences that needed to be efficiently managed by extension agents in the coffee sector of Costa Rica. In times of crisis, having effective leadership could be the game-changer between perishing or succeeding. The extension agents in the coffee sector of Costa Rica work in two institutions, Coffee Institute of Costa Rica and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. For institutions to succeed, they need to know their susceptibilities; Acknowledging their weaknesses will allow the institution to act in proactive behavior. The purpose of this cross-sectional survey design was to examine and describe the efficacy and effectiveness of the key leaders managing the COVID-19 crisis in coffee production in Costa Rica. This study used a convenience sample. The target population was 94 extension agents; this study had 76 responses; 34 were from MAG, and 42 were from ICAFE. Missing data were handled with listwise deletion. Responses in this study showed that 63.16% of the participants were males, 19.74% were females, and 17.11% declined to respond; results reflected the gender gap in STEM careers in the country. It was determined the need for mentorship in the female extension agents in Costa Rica; female extension agents score themselves lower in leadership skills than their counterparts, even though there is no statistical significance difference. The C-LEAD and LPI results indicated participants have a positive view of their leadership skills in times of crisis. It was determined that for extension agents to be prepared with the skills necessary to handle leadership positions, especially in times of crises, they need to be provided with the time to develop those skills in their daily routines.