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Why farm teams with complementary skillsets succeed

Getty/iStockphoto two farmers in a field talking
Each person has unique skills, and they each appreciate what the other brings to the business.

There’s a pesky English language concept of homophones—two words that are pronounced the same but mean two different things and are spelled differently (and often misspelled)! I encounter a pair of homophones that often work in tandem in successful farm businesses.

We each have behavioral strengths and weaknesses. We each have content areas that we are knowledgeable in and those that we are not. Wise leaders intentionally backfill their weak areas with contributions from others; in other words, they build teams with skill sets that complement each other.

I know of many farm partnerships where family members contribute quite different things. One person can repair and operate equipment with ease, while another is skilled at accounting or hedging. And even better, they enjoy and like those respective duties. One is a people person and great at nurturing landowner, buyer, and employee relationships, while another is keen to quietly hold down the fort and fight daily fires.

But here’s the key to the successful operations with complementary skillsets working together long term – one compliments the other. They consistently remind each other, and themselves, what a blessing it is to specialize in their own strength and have a partner to offset the rest.

There are times one person may not fully understand how hard the other’s role is, and frustrations mount. But it is powerful to take a step back and say, “I know you’re so much better at that, and I don’t want to do your job. Thank you.”

Appreciation goes a long way.

Davon Cook is a family business consultant at K Coe Isom. Reach Davon at [email protected].

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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