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How well do you know yourself as a farm leader?

Making good business decisions starts with knowing your own tendencies.

When unexpected situations happen – whether in our farm business or in our lives – we may not know exactly how we’ll respond. Especially in scenarios where emotions are running high and there’s a lot on the line, we might not know what to do.

Maybe we usually tend to be very logical – thinking everything through carefully. But maybe we get in a situation where there’s a time crunch or it’s a big decision or we don’t feel we have as much information as we’d like. Then, we might make decisions that, looking back, we’re not as pleased with.

Getting to know you

One thing that can help is to do some up-front work to “know yourself” better as a farm leader. I’m thinking here of reflecting back on some of the biggest, most important decisions you’ve had to make for your business. Taking some time to analyze and recognize your own tendencies or patterns when it comes to business decision-making can be really helpful when it comes time for the next big decision.

For example, you might be like the person I described earlier, who wants to have a lot of information before making a decision. That can be a very good strategy in many cases. However, there are certain situations where a farm leader may not be able to get as much information as they would like. There’s still some uncertainty in the picture, yet a decision needs to be made quickly.

Sometimes, the tendency or pattern for this person is to do nothing in the face of uncertainty. Choosing to do nothing is always an option; however, in some situations, it may not be the best or more advantageous option for our operation.

Once a farm leader becomes more self-aware that this is their tendency, it can be very helpful in the decision-making process. They can recognize when they are automatically leaning toward their default of “do nothing” rather than looking carefully at the situation and taking (or not taking) action appropriately.

Seek feedback

So how can you work to “know yourself” better as a farm leader in decision-making situations? Take some time to think about a variety of major decisions you’ve made for your operation in the past. You might even write down the situation, the factors surrounding it, and the decision you ultimately made. Also include whether you were pleased with how you made the decision, as well as the final outcome. What patterns do you see?

Another thing you might do is talk with others you trust and who know you well as a farm business leader. Ask them to give you candid feedback on your decision-making. Ask them how they think you could improve. You could ask a business partner, trusted friend or advisor for this type of feedback.

One area of the farm operation that can be challenging when it comes to decision-making – and where it’s critically important to “know yourself” and your tendencies – is around the farm’s grain marketing.

This winter, our advisors are helping farm leaders put together grain marketing plans for 2019 and beyond. They assist farmers throughout the year in making and executing marketing decisions. You can get in touch with our advisors to talk about your operation and how you approach decisions as a farm leader.

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

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