Leadership skills vital in post-Brexit era, warns CAAV

Farmers and rural business owners need to focus on developing their leadership skills if they are to thrive in the future, according to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV).

With most commodity prices and farm incomes under great pressure, it would be very easy to focus only on immediate concerns, warns Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV. “But at times like this it is even more important to look at the big picture and make the important strategic decisions. Where should the business go? Why? How? A secure business is the best answer to uncertainties, including what may unfold after the Brexit vote.”

Dr Martin Clarke, business director at the Cranfield Centre for General Management Development, says it is easy to confuse management with leadership, but a good business requires both. “A leader asks difficult strategic questions while a manager answers operational questions.”

Business leadership is usually something that has to be developed and integrated with personal motivations, adds Dr Clarke. It requires a well-supported development process, with plenty of opportunity to build an external perspective via exposure to a diverse range of views. “You need to look beyond the industry at best practice elsewhere.” It also requires self-awareness and ability to change, creation of opportunities to be noticed and a good network of people to share ideas, and challenge and support each other.

“Whether you are a farmer or a rural business professional, you will best face the challenges ahead by stepping back and taking a wider view of the world rather than adopting a narrow view,” says Mr Moody. “That includes using the best advisers possible – CAAV members and Fellows can bring insights from a wide range of professional work. In addition, they can provide independent advice and facilitate discussions to help families and businesses through the issues involved in managing change.”