Aspiring to greatness: 7 skills for effective leadership

People play a large part in the success of any business, no matter the size.

You might be the manager of a large farming enterprise, or the operator of a small family business. Either way, at some point you are likely to have to lead and manage people. To many, this can be a little confronting. The good news though, is great leaders aren’t born; they are made. We’ve put together 7 skills that anyone aspiring to become a great leader or manager, should foster.

Leaders have a clear vision.

Leaders don’t “wing it”. While good leaders sometimes make things look effortless, leaders generally have a bigger vision and a plan. They know where they are going, and how they are going to get there. In business terms, this most likely presents itself in the form of a business plan, and will outline what you are trying to achieve for your agribusiness; the timeframe, the risks, the financials etc. It’s your game plan to success.

Leaders communicate.

Being able to communicate clearly, and consistently is a crucial skill for any leader to have. A good leader/manager ensures everyone understands their role and the expectations for that role. A good way to achieve this is by setting Key Performance Indicators for each role, having regular team catch-ups and conducting performance reviews.

It is also important to ensure you communicate what the business is trying to achieve (the vision), and continue to communicate throughout the journey, so that your people and team are involved and invested. Good leaders generally bring people on the journey with them, rather than having to force and cajole people all the way, and they do this by always communicating. For example, if the bigger picture plan is business expansion to allow for family succession, a good leader will always be communicating key factors along the way, i.e. potential delays in plans due to drought. That way everyone is comfortable and confident that everything is still moving in the right direction.

Leaders listen.

It’s easy to picture a leader being someone standing at the front of a room talking. But in reality, the good leaders are often the ones sitting down listening to others. As someone managing people, whether it be farm employees or family, it’s important to actively listen to your people – in fact, we just wrote an entire article on The Art of Effective Listening and its impact on business success.

Listening builds relationships, and lets the people you work with know that they are valued. It also offers opportunities to glean new ideas and knowledge from other’s experiences.

Leaders continually learn.

The agribusiness industry is always changing, with new technologies, trends and research frequently appearing. How you did business in the 80s/90s/00s isn’t the same as how business is done now. An effective leader stays ahead of the game, and is constantly looking for new ways to learn and innovate. Good leaders are generally also intensely curious. Sure, not every new thing is going to be right for your farming business, however making time for continual learning is important. This might be through organised programs, such as the ABDI or industry partner programs, or through simply talking with peers and others in your field – what are they doing, what is working for them.

Leaders trust.

There is no point being a leader if you still plan on doing all the work yourself. An effective leader doesn’t micromanage, they simple trust that they have hired good people, with the right skills to get the job done. And then, they trust those people to actually go and get the job done.

Delegating and giving the right tasks to the right people is not only a more efficient way of operating, but it provides the people you work with a greater sense of value and achievement.

Leaders live by example.

An effective leader understands what their team needs to do, and is seen leading the way. Effectively, you need to “walk to talk”. It seems obvious, but it’s not always easy to do. If you plan on having a staff meeting at 9am and you want your team to be on time, make sure you are on time. If you ask your crew to consider their safety when out mustering, lead by example. If you can walk the talk, then your team will naturally want to follow.

Leaders recognise.

Great leaders recognise that business success is rarely achieved alone. Take the time to recognise and reward your people for their hard work or their new ideas. Saying thank-you and acknowledging someone’s effort and contribution (even if it didn’t pan out quite as planned) doesn’t take much effort, but is often remembered for a much longer time.

You can also recognise your people by keeping them informed about what is happening in the business. The more informed they are about their work environment, the happier they will be in their work. Sometimes, understanding the ‘why’ a task needs to happen, makes it easier to undertake the ‘what’ (the task itself).

Looking to develop your leadership and business skills?

A lot of the concepts discussed here are covered in more detail in the ABDI programs – particularly creating business plans, understanding financials, and communicating with staff and family. If you would like more information about any of these topics, consider registering for our upcoming 12 Week Program in Dalby, or simply contacting us for a chat.

'The 5 Golden Rules To Creating a High-Performance Agri-Business'


When you’re trying to run your business, there are a lot of things that need attention. If you could work out what the 5x most important things were to focus on, would that make your life easier?

ABDI has worked with hundreds of agribusinesses over the years. We created this free ebook, “The Top 5 Golden Rules of a High Performing Agri-Business”, to let you know about 5 key things you can work on that will make a huge difference to your business. 

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