Editor’s Note: A better way to start the day

Of all the bright and memorable things you’ll find in our March 27, 2018 issue, the one I keep coming back to is the advice from Harvard prof Linda Hill in Maggie Van Camp’s, “Are you a good boss?

Her advice is simple. Let me lift it straight from the story: “She (Hill) suggests starting each morning with a quick preview of the day’s to-do list, and for each item on the list asking yourself how you can use it to develop as a leader and learn from it.”

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Tom Button
Tom Button

“Improvement only comes with self-assessment,” Hill says.

Like so many people, I’ve been lucky in my career because I’ve stumbled my way into decisions that turned out much better than I expected at the time, for reasons I would never have guessed at.

One of those was to leave journalism to join a marketing communications agency.

It’s a lot like the advice to young wannabe farmers that they should work off the farm before they come back home. It’s rare to hear anyone later say that it wasn’t a good choice.

In my case, and I suspect for others too, one of the reasons is because, frankly, other sectors are often much more scientific in their leadership training, and they are ahead of us in their understanding of what great leadership can achieve.

In a way, it’s a virtue born of necessity. If it isn’t a family business, new hires have to learn from scratch. They won’t have had all those years of watching Mom and Dad.

That said, outside of a few exceptions, the sophistication of the leadership training that’s available to Canada’s non-farm businesses outshines much of what’s widely available to our farmers. Which is a pity, because in terms of talent, I’d put our farmers up against anyone else.

Does it make a difference?

Anyone who reads the pages of Country Guide will know that farmers across the country are displaying more and more business smarts every day. There’s no question about that.

But Canada’s future as an agricultural powerhouse rests on our ability to excel at everything we do, not just some of it. Farming here is too high cost for anything less.

As a country, are we as good at training our farmers on business leadership as we are at training them to be world leaders in crop and livestock production?

Not only is the answer clearly no, we also have to admit that it looks like it’s going to be no for quite some time to come. Who do you see rushing to fill the gap?

Yes, we’re getting better at upgrading our skills in specific areas, whether that’s financial management or succession planning.

But let’s go back to Hill’s point. Too many more of us are used to saying that the farmer’s job today is that of a CEO than are used to thinking about how we as individuals and as an industry can take on that role at the highest possible level.

Are we getting it right? Let me know at [email protected].

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Tom Button

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

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