Dairy Industry Leadership Strategy

Building a positive dairy culture through shared leadership

Executive Summary

The dairy industry is unique among Australian agricultural industries in that we have both a proud history of cooperation and many of the organisational structures that make it possible to aim for the most idealistic and transformational leadership goals. Even if our representative organisations change in the future it is more than likely to give a boost to unity and confidence, not reduce it.

Leadership is at the heart of everything we think, say and do. This may come as a new idea to many people because we have been brought up with the idea that leadership is a position with a title.

That idea has changed as the world has changed in the past 20 years. In today’s changing and uncertain world, leadership is defined by our mindsets and behaviours and it is needed from everyone. Leadership simply describes the way we think, speak and act, every day – ‘how we show up’. It requires courage, patience, self-awareness, innovation, collaboration, openness, inclusiveness and respect.

While leadership positions with titles will probably always be needed, everyone can contribute to leadership in their sphere of influence: in their workplace, family and community. If we do it well our collective leadership will enable our industry to rebuild the unity, confidence and profitability outlined in the Australian Dairy Plan.

The dairy leadership strategy outlines four key goals. Because leadership describes the ways in which we think and act, the goals inevitably overlap but it is felt there is sufficient distinction among the goals for each to stand alone for the purpose of the strategy.

The four goals are:

Leadership Development: Our approach to leadership development will maximise reach and reduce barriers to participation. It will reflect the change and evolution experienced by the industry. We see leadership development approaches moving from leaders in isolation to connected leaders, from leadership development events to work integrated programs, from short sessions to ongoing development processes, from a skills acquisition focus to a holistic development focus, which enables a shift in knowledge, skills and behaviours, and from a focus on individual to collective leadership.

Leadership Capability and Expectations: We will encourage everyone to build leadership skills and to demonstrate leadership in their lives and work. The industry needs high levels of capability, commitment and collaboration to achieve the aims of the Australian Dairy Plan. We can’t just leave it to the few. It starts with individual capability development. A broader concept of what leadership skills are and how we apply them will be an enabling force for cultural change across the industry.

Leadership Impact: Good leadership contributes to a positive culture which has an impact both internally and externally. Positive leadership impact is characterised by high levels of engagement, trust, collaboration and confidence. Current leaders play a critical role in this shift. A leader’s behaviour influences the way people around them believe they are expected to behave. Industry leaders must make themselves very visible and demonstrate the skills, mindsets and behaviours they expect to be included in any leadership development program. The more people demonstrating positive leadership, the greater the positive impact and the greater the likelihood of continuous growth and improvement.

Leadership Capacity: Being able to attract the right people, engage and manage them effectively and provide development opportunities is essential for the long-term viability of the industry and the sustainability of our leadership pipeline. Good leadership behaviour helps to attract and retain good staff. Good leaders support them on their career pathways. Good leadership also presents a positive image of the dairy industry, attracting others from outside the industry.

The leadership framework:

Capabilities: The leadership capabilities clearly articulate leadership expectations and guide and support a person’s leadership capability development pathway across their career. The industry will allocate resources strategically to support people on their dairy leadership development journey.

Monitoring and evaluation framework: The Dairy Leadership Strategy will include an Evaluation Framework to guide the evaluation of the progress of its various leadership development efforts at the initiative, goal and strategy level. Key success measures will be identified and used to evaluate the progress of the Leadership Strategy.

Governance and reporting: A Dairy Industry Leadership Steering Committee will be established under the auspices of the Dairy Industry People Development Council to provide a mechanism for ongoing oversight and accountability.


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