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Leadership on the Farm

 by Amber Roberts, Extension Educator, Agricultural Business Management

Leadership word cloud includes the words: team, success, responsibility, recpect, tools, direction, role, manager, attitude, delegating, power, member, needs, coaching, expert, feedback, and skills.
What makes a great leader and how can we learn to be better leaders on our farm? Great farms require both management and leadership. The transition from an operations manager to a leader can be difficult. Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder while leaders determine whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. Farm management is getting the most bushels per acre with the lowest amount of inputs while leadership on the farm is how we approach making sure the farm is sustainable in the long term.

Leadership is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and improved. Knowing your own and your employees' leadership styles can help you to better lead your farm and tailor tasks to empower informal leadership with your employees. Before we discuss the six types of leadership styles, take the leadership styles questionnaire.

6 Leadership Styles

The leadership style questionnaire is adapted from Dr. David M McClelland's work on human motivation. Some of the leadership style terminologies have been adapted and renamed in newer leadership theory, the most common differences are coercive leadership is also called commanding and authoritative leadership is known as visionary leadership.

Coercive Leadership

This is the 'do it or else' type of leadership. Coercive leaders expect immediate compliance and solicit very little to no input. They hold onto tight control subordinates and influence with discipline. This leadership style is best suited for crisis situations and ideal for farm safety compliance. 

Authoritative Leadership

This is a fair, but firm leader. Authoritative leaders provide clear direction and solicit some input from followers while still remaining in control. They carefully monitor other's behavior and view influence as a part of the management's job. Authoritative leadership is best suited for when a change in vision or clear direction is needed. 

Affiliative Leadership

Affiliative leaders take a friendly approach to leading their followers. They feel that people come first and work comes second. They have a strong desire to be like, and see it as their job to maintain harmony in the work environment. When providing feedback, authoritative leaders tend to provide little direction or effective guidance for unsatisfactory performance. Affiliative leadership is best suited for motivating teams and mending rifts. 

Democratic Leadership
Democratic leaders like to involve everyone in the decision-making process and have a let's vote attitude. They believe that individuals and groups function best when they work together. Democratic leaders will hold many meetings, reward adequate behavior, and dislike discipline employees. This leadership style is best suited for getting group buy-in. 

Pacesetting Leadership
Pacesetting leaders lead by example, they have high standards for themselves and expect the same of others. Interpersonal relationships are not their highest priority, and if employees aren't meeting their performance standards they will reassign work. Pacesetting leadership is best suited for motivating teams and employees who are independent and competent. 

Coaching Leadership

Coaching leaders are developers and delegators. They develop their employees and delegate authority, which allows followers flexibility in setting goals and completing their work. Coaching leaders have high standards of performance and provide support when needed, this leadership style is best suited for building employee's long-term skills and abilities. 

To learn more about leadership styles and how to best empower farm employee's informal leadership, listen to the full 'Leading on the Farm' podcast.

Episode 8 Transcript

Episode Content:

  • 00:52 - What makes a leader?
  • 04:56 - Six Leadership Styles
  • 06:18 - Coercive Leadership
  • 07:43 - Authorative Leadership
  • 08:31 - Affiliative Leadership
  • 09:42 - Democratic Leadership
  • 10:41 - Pacesetting Leadership
  • 11:42 - Coaching Leadership

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