Should You Be a Leader or Manager of Your Dairy Business?

Should one aspire to be good leader or seek to be a good manager?  Many, including Harvest Management Advisors, have thought long and hard about how to answer this question.  Obvious, there is a major difference between being a good leader and being a good manager.  Leaders inspire others to follow.  Managers direct what others do.  So what is the answer to the above question?  It seems the answer is both; aspire to be one that finds balance between being a good leader and a good manager.  Highly successful dairy businesses appear to have people who can be both strong leaders and highly-engaged managers.

So what differentiates the leader from the manager?  Consider this – on one dairy with multiple site locations that I’m familiar with, the youngest of four brothers emerged as the leader of his family business because he:

  • is visionary
  • has a high level of intelligence and an advanced educational degree
  • is charismatic, articulate, empathetic but determined
  • is able to articulate his vision, his plan for moving toward that vision, and how what the role of the people he leads is

He is the leader because he inspires others to follow him to grow the family business.  But, these same leaders are not necessarily good managers.  Sometimes these leaders need to have strong managers surrounding them.  Why, because managers are administrators and supervisors who use proven tools and techniques to evaluate the current situation, adjust the business model, direct / coach / support workers so that the optimal return on investment is in hand.  These managers:

  • create and manage a proven business model
  • create and enhance a supporting infrastructure for that business model
  • know, organize and control work
  • set and monitor expectations for results
  • train, motivate, and hold accountable workers
  • continuously monitor, evaluate, and adjust every aspect of their business to improve its degree of success

Of course, having two people, a leader and a manager on staff to cover each other’s weaknesses is neither pragmatic nor low cost.  What is needed is one person who possesses the desired leadership characteristics as well as managerial skills.  Leaders create an understanding of where the business is going and what people’s roles are in that journey.  And managers monitor, evaluate, adjust and ensure discipline to the details of the business plan as the organization operates and moves toward its vision.  Having one person do both is the best solution.

Can we train people to become leaders?  Yes.  Can we train people to become managers, supervisors and good bosses?  Yes.  Lots of dairy workers possess the minimal leadership skills needed.  Lots of dairy workers have the minimal management skills needed to operate a business.  But both skill sets are necessary.  Both skill sets are teachable.  And both skill sets can be brought into balance within one person.

Being a good leader/manager is hard work; developing good leader/managers is even harder.  Identify key individuals who want to lead and manage.  Teach them the basic leadership skills.  Teach them management principles, techniques, and tools.  With this approach, good bosses can be developed and grown who are both leaders and managers.

Harvest Management Advisors is here to assist you develop the leadership and managerial skills of your people.  Call us today.

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