As leaders on the farm, we generally model our leadership style on something – or someone else – that we’ve experienced before. It could be someone we know and have the opportunity to closely observe how they lead. It could be a close relative, or the person we’ve learned the most about farming from, or a neighbor.
We may also choose to model our leadership in part on what we’ve learned and studied – whether that’s through reading books, attending conferences or listening to radio programs and podcasts. Maybe we piece together our own philosophy through a combination of different resources, filtered through our own day to day experiences.
One of the things we may also have a clear idea on – whether we’re completely aware of it or not – are some traits or behaviors we want to make sure aren’t part of the way we lead our farm.
Sometimes this comes from observation of how other farmers or business leaders run their organizations. Or maybe you’re intentionally running the farm differently in some ways versus previous generations.
Putting in the work
Building your own leadership philosophy takes both effort and intention. A farmer at any point in their career will benefit from this type of reflection – and it’s especially important for new or future farm leaders to do some work on the way they want to lead before they step into that role.
It’s true that our leadership style will probably evolve over time as we gain more experience and figure out what works best for us and for our operation. But it’s good to keep paying attention to the way you’re leading. Ask yourself whether your leadership in the day to day is lined up with what your farm needs and what type of leader you want to be.
Becoming more aware of what – or who – you’re modeling your leadership on gives you more choices in how you pursue developing yourself as a leader. With so many resources available today around the topic of leadership, there’s a lot to choose from – so it’s important to be selective.
Ask the questions
Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you get started:
- Who is the leader I admire most? Why?
- How have I or can I adapt what I admire most about them into my own leadership style on my farm, in alignment with the needs of my operation?
- What’s the best book I’ve read or speaker I’ve heard on the topic of leadership?
- What are two specific things I’ve taken or can take from that resource into my everyday leadership?
- What am I currently doing or working on at this time to increase my leadership skills?
- What particular area or skill of leadership do I want to actively work on in the next couple months?
One resource you can listen to for free during harvest this fall is the Modern Farm Business podcast. This podcast focuses on farm leadership, with now more than 60 episodes available for download. Each one looks at a particular aspect of leadership, specifically for farm leaders.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.