Unexpected Leadership Lessons From A Dairy Farm
This week I am teaching EntreLeadership Performance Series here in Tennessee, and will be finishing the week off with a couple of Formula races in Savannah. I’ve asked some of the incredibly talented commenters of this blog to share their wisdom. Here’s a great post by Aaron Nelson. Aaron is the owner of Epicenter Languages. You can guest post as well! Read how to here.
I grew up on a rural dairy farm in Nova Scotia, Canada. And when I say rural, I mean we were so far out in the middle of nowhere, my best friends were my brother and our 30 cows.
I didn’t realize it then, but all the hard work that living on a farm entails actually taught us a couple of valuable lessons on leadership, which I would like to share with you.
Leadership Is Never About the Leader.
A dairy cow needs to be milked at least twice every day. If you don’t do it, she will quickly become sick and could even die. A great dairy farmer knows that life literally revolves around meeting the needs of his four-legged, black-and-white-spotted animals. Forget about them, and you’re out of a job. The same is true for your team.
Cows are pretty dumb. If left to themselves, they tend to wander and get into trouble. I remember several occasions spending hours alongside my father rescuing a cow that had somehow managed to get tangled in one of our barbed-wire fences.
People aren’t dumb. But if you stop giving them clear directions, if you quit being there for them or if you start distancing yourself from them, you’ll quickly find yourself having to untangle your team or your business from that “barbed-wire fence.”
It’s been a number of years since my farm days, but the lessons I learned remain viable. Like the farmer and his herd, leaders need their people just as much as their people need them.
Question: What past experiences have taught you about leadership?