Drought shows need for Leadership at Grassroots Level.

It doesn’t matter whether it is sport, business or farming – Leaders make decisions and decision making is vital when weather extremes hit the farming industry. In droughts, Farmers must develop the confidence to make decisions early before their feed supply runs out.


When we hear about developing leaders we think of organisations training people to be leaders at the top end of business.  I often wonder why this is when everyone should show leadership in their respective role. My sport coaching philosophy is to develop each player to be responsible for their actions on the field. Developing leadership in players builds confidence so they can make decisions about what is in front of them and then act accordingly usually in very rapid time.

Farmers, sharemilkers and their staff are merely players in the farming game.

There is no doubt that the face of farming is changing. We no longer have the farming generations coming through to take over operations so it is even more important now to develop the relative newcomers to the industry for the success of farming in the future. You cannot do this by information teaching alone as it becomes the Possum in the headlights scenario when times get tough.

Farmers must learn to develop leadership in the people at grass roots level so they can be profitable and sustainable in the future. Here are three ways coaching can help:

  1. Develop a learning culture. This is not just AgITO or Tertiary type learning. This is an in-depth understanding that everyone fully understands everything they do, why they do it and what the potential outcome will be. Be open to feedback and help them find the answers to their questions.
  2. Encourage decision making. Making decisions is an important part of becoming a leader. They won’t always get it right but they will be continually learning. Give them responsibility to talk to vets, stock agents and the like. Make sure they learn and fully understand compliance responsibilities such as NAIT and Effluent management.
  3. Step back. Give staff room to move. Using a consultant to tell your manager or sharemilker what to do each month is NOT stepping back. If you have hand picked someone to manage your business then let them do it. Set some parameters for staff to work to and let them go for it. You want individuals express their strengths, you do not want a clone of yourself.

Coaching is a proven method of getting the best results in any business and Target Focus Ltd is the only coaching company dedicated to helping farmers in New Zealand. So show some leadership in the industry and develop yourself and the people in your business.

About Ian Handcock

Founder Fit 4 Farming initiative Promoting Farmer wellbeing. Performance coach.
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