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3 steps to become a next-level farm leader

Getting better is never finished – and that’s a good thing.

In your farming career, you may have found yourself wanting to take your leadership and management skills “up” a level at times. That might be in response to challenges that were happening in your daily activities, or maybe in running the financial side of your business.

Maybe you decided to proactively take steps toward becoming a better leader and manager before you ever “officially” stepped into such a role. You started to hone those skills while the current leader was still in charge – a smart move.

But no matter how much work you’ve already done to improve as a leader and manager of your farm operation, there can always be ways to keep moving forward. That’s not a discouraging fact – it’s a good thing. It means we can always get better, and that means we can always keep taking our operations to the next level of professionalism and excellence.

Up the ante

Here are three steps to take if you’re ready to move your leadership and management game up a notch:

  1. First, take inventory of where you’re currently at. This means getting a clear handle on your current strengths and weaknesses as a leader. It’s tough to decide where to focus your energy until you see where you’re already doing well – and where you could use some more work. You might even ask several people who know you well in the work setting to evaluate you in a few different aspects of leadership. Their candid feedback can be helpful in highlighting things that might be hard to see in yourself. Then you can use their evaluations along with your self-evaluation to help focus your efforts.
  2. Next, assess what your farm needs most right now from you as a leader and manager. What is most critical right now for your operation to survive – and thrive – into the future? What are the areas that need more attention and focused work from you as a leader? Where has the operation experienced the biggest problems in the past couple years? With those issues and areas in mind, determine what sorts of skills or activities you could begin in order to change the situation and move the needle. You might also ask: What is the farm requiring from me right now that I don’t feel as confident about delivering? What skills and learning might increase my confidence and expertise in that area?
  3. Finally, create a detailed plan that lays out what you’re going to do to work on your leadership and management skills, how you’re planning to do it, and timeframes for this work. Obviously, peak seasons probably aren’t going to be the right time to schedule this type of skill-building. Consider the resources you’ll need. That might include books, in-person or online courses or workshops, advisor consultations or peer group work. A mix of different strategies may work best for the area where you’re wanting to build your skills.

One of the skills we often hear farm leaders want to work on is creating grain marketing plans and growing their expertise in that area. If this one is on your list, get in touch with our advisors for the farm to start working on education and a plan.

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

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