It’s often said that people don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad leaders. For an industry that relies on employee engagement as much as dairy does, farm owners and managers cannot afford to lose quality workers because of an ineffective boss.

Good leaders impact a business’s culture by developing the mission and vision and taking efforts that help workers be satisfied in their job, said Robin Perry-Smith in a Penn State Extension webinar. How a leader effectively provides direction, implements plans, and motivates people depends on their leadership style.

Every leader will take a different approach to this responsibility, said the energy, business, and community vitality education program specialist. We might believe that our leadership style is a function of our personality, but in reality, it is a strategic choice. Effective leaders must be able to use different styles of leadership at different times depending on the situation and who they are speaking with.

Perry-Smith identified six common leadership styles:

  • Coaching: The leader focuses on each individual’s personal development.
  • Authoritative: The leader provides vision, but the employees have the authority to achieve the goals how they see fit.
  • Affiliative: The leader builds a positive work environment for the team.
  • Democratic: The leader allows every team member to have a voice in decision making.
  • Pacesetting: The leader sets the example for the group.
  • Commanding/Directive: The leader calls for action to fix a problem quickly.

Choosing a leadership style begins with believing in what you’re doing, she explained. If you don’t recognize the value of your work, how will your employees? From there, consider what your strengths are but recognize that you will need to be flexible in how you lead certain scenarios or people. Then, consider the needs of the organization or team and determine what will motivate and resonate with them.

Lean on your own experiences as an employee and in the community to recognize effective as well as ineffective traits of leaders. Perry-Smith also reminded that becoming a good leader does not have an end date. Continue to learn from others, read, and ask questions to develop your abilities to connect with and encourage your team.

Being a leader begins with self-awareness, Perry-Smith concluded. That means being honorable by being truthful, respectful, ethical, and accountable — in short, someone an employee would want to work with and for.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
June 29, 2023

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