Do You Have What It Takes?

Recently I was visiting with some of my academic colleagues from around the nation concerning the attributes of effective agricultural managers. Let’s not confine this to agriculture. It could be any manager, for-profit to non-profit. How do you size up? This winter I will inter-mix these attributes with other current issues in my columns.

One attribute that is rising to the top of this list is a manager who is objective, but values performance and action. All too frequently, agricultural managers are too emotional in their decision-making processes. For example, “Well, the next door neighbor’s land is for sale; we may not see it appear again for 25 years. We should buy it,” or “If we don’t rent that farm now, we may lose our chance for a decade.”

The most effective managers divide their decision making into the $100, $1000 and $10,000 decisions, and prioritize their time accordingly. All too often, traditional managers have spent a majority of their time making $100 decisions rather than thinking strategically about the larger decisions that have more impact on the success of the business.

Effective managers are forming their advisory teams that, when armed with information, can walk the management team through the objective decision making process. This team could include the crop and livestock consultant as well as the accountant and lawyer.

Excellent managers have the ability to execute their strategies and follow up using metrics or measurements to evaluate the outcome.

Next time we will discuss another attribute of an effective manager: thinking in systems rather than components.

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

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