Leadership Lessons From the Farm

When you picture a typical career do you picture an office filled with desks and people in business casual attire? Because I sure do. But what about the people who are working hard without offices and desks? Insert the hard working farmers. Here are a few leadership tips that we can pick up from the farmers of the world:

1. Work alongside your employees

 Whether you are the owner, the son, the daughter, the farm hand or the foreman, every single person on the farm is working next to one another. They are not separated by offices or cubicles and at some point, they are all performing the same work. Leaders on a farm are known for practicing what we call “participatory leadership” where they work the land and the animals alongside their employees in order to help them learn by watching them. As a manager, often times the best way to teach an employee is to show them how you would approach the task.

2. Believe in people’s abilities

 Every great farmer believes 100% in the abilities of their team. They allow each employee to learn every aspect of the business and never doubt their employees. When someone you respect has expectations for you and believes that you can accomplish more than you know you can, you typically accomplish more. Try to gain that respect from your team by showing true belief in their abilities and you will be blown away by how much they can accomplish.

3. Put people in the driver’s seat

 On the farm this is taken literally. In order to tap employees’ full potential on the farm, it is important to give them more responsibilities and teach them every aspect of the business. That means everyone drives the tractor at some point. And life on the farm can be fast-paced so as a leader you need to make sure each person is ready at any time to take on any role. So give your employees tasks from time to time that are not in their skill-set, and a lot of people might surprise you.

We can learn a ton about being successful by studying the business of farming. Farmers are known for being some of the hardest working people out there and you can tell just by talking to them. They are dedicated, passionate, and skilled just as we all hope to be. So the next time you are leading a team, make sure you take a note or two from the farmers of the world.


Denis Coleman

Denis Coleman is the founder and CEO of Work Compass, a cloud staff performance collaboration software platform that helps teams align their efforts with strategic goals and continuously improve performance. Frustrated with the disconnect between strategy setting and day to day execution and the lack of tools available to managers to help them be great at their most important function …. Aligning their teams activities with strategic goals and actively managing for high performance Denis spent over 5 years researching strategy execution and performance management practices before founding Work Compass to create a software solution. Denis has held senior roles in Ireland, Czech Republic and North America with high performing electronics manufacturing and professional services organisations for more than 12 years. Denis has worked as Finance Director responsible for €800 million in annual revenues for Flextronics International, Key Account Manager responsible for annual revenues of more than €600 million for Dovatron International and Management Consultant for BDO one of Europe’s most successful professional services providers.

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