By Alisa Wood - May 29th, 2019
I recently attended The Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI), which is a three-phase leader communication development program for young adults working in the dairy industry. In this training, I developed skills and the personal network I needed to gain success in today’s dairy business.
I already feel like I’m now a better leader in my role than I was prior to participating in the YDLI, equipped with the tools, resources, and guidance provided during the program. There is a large decline of farmers, agriculturists, and agriculture education in the classroom. I wanted to better understand my role as someone who grew up in the agriculture community. The framework of being a voice for the agriculture industry is about telling that story to consumers by improving transparency, as well as exploring opportunities to more responsibly use resources, raise animals, and care for the people who help bring food to the American dinner table. In my role as an industry accountant, I am able to provide profit and loss amounts, as well as insight on how to control expenses and provide cost-savings analysis. I am also able to explain how food gets from farm to table, as well as certain practices that farmers take to care for our environment and be sustainable.
During the YDLI training, we learned about two major factors that impact the effectiveness of leaders: communication and the ability to create a positive workplace. The reason people typically don’t hit performance goals or effectively manage others is because of communication issues. To understand how we communicate during favorable and unfavorable times, we learned our behavioral styles and discussed how to manage, approach, and communicate with those who have different behavioral styles than our own. To avoid communication issues as a leader, it is important not to push your behavioral style on others that have may have a different style from your own. Learn to read their style but do not change yours. Treat people the way they want to be treated. You have the ability to change reactions. Be sure to stay productive by tracking individual and team productivity.
Creating positivity in the workplace is another large component of leadership. As a leader, you should encourage employees and their ideas. If you don’t, then they will not perform their jobs well, develop in their roles, or invest in their work. Find out why someone thinks something is a good idea rather than just saying no and shooting them down. Instead, ask questions and say things like “tell me more about it.” This lets an employee know you’re willing to listen and are receptive to their ideas. Make sure you’re asking employees questions that let them know where you’re coming from — even if you don’t agree with them. When you do say no, explain why, and be sure to acknowledge their ideas. It is a lot easier for a person to react well to a “no” after they feel you’ve heard them out.
- Saying yes opens up an opportunity; say yes to the person even if you have to say no to the idea.
- Start with the why – what is the purpose and know when to have an opinion.
- Stop having the mindset that you win or lose in conflict.
- You are not in control of how other people react when you say “no.”
- We accomplish more if we continue to move forward and not place our focus on mistakes. The result of calling people out for mistakes makes them not want to try anymore.
- Allow space for people to give you their best. Inspire people, don’t just just tell them what to do.
- Constantly get feedback. Be open to it and fully listen, even when it isn’t flattering.
I encourage you to take advantage of any training you’re offered. It can be in your specific industry or something completely new! Training will give you experiences, tools, networking, and resources to become the very best at what you do.
Alisa Wood is a current student at CSU-Global, graduating this summer with a Master’s in Professional Accounting. She graduated from CSU-Fort Collins with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture Business. She currently works as an Assistant Plant Controller for JBS Beef in Tolleson, Arizona. She aspires to move forward in the agriculture community and hopes that the skills she learned in her professional training will help her become a better accountant and leader.