We encourage everyone to build leadership skills in their sphere of influence and to consistently demonstrate leadership.

We all have a role to play in creating the future we want to see. To do that we need to understand that leadership is everyone’s responsibility.

The challenges we face cannot be resolved by a few formal leaders at the top. We need to include everyone in taking a share of the responsibility. We will develop leadership at all levels to encourage participation, working together and building confidence.

The expectations of leadership are also changing. We live in a rapidly changing and uncertain world where no one person has all the best ideas or all the answers. We need to adapt, work together and share our ideas.

The old leadership model was predicated on the decisive ‘hero’ leader. Leading from the front meant token listening then making a (bold) decision. In the old system you can do everything right until you confront an idea or an approach that challenges your thinking, your self perception, your sense of your status/your hierarchical position. At this point it is common to see resistance, defensiveness, counter attack, pulling rank, changing the subject, undermining, impatience, creating a false sense of urgency, throwing in a red herring that your rank allows you to get away with.

Leadership in VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) means listening deeply and making collaborative decisions that devolve and share ownership and accountability in order to get ongoing sustainable solutions that meet diverse needs.

The way I think and the way I act affects people around me. My thoughts and my behaviour affect how my staff, teammates and family perform. The questions we can ask ourselves are: Am I being the best I can be? Am I doing my best to enable others around me to be the best they can be?

We need people who can lead and support one another to bring out the best in everyone and to develop the best ways of meeting our challenges.

For example, we can support others to take initiatives, work collaboratively, to adapt to new circumstances and situations and make decisions where at times the circumstances are unclear or ambiguous.

People who bring both intellectual and emotional capabilities have a focus on what is called both horizontal and vertical development. Leaders with a good grasp of governance and planning who can think analytically and strategically have good horizontal skills. Leaders who are self-aware, innovative, adaptive and can engage, collaborate and build resilience have strong vertical skills.

Everyone has both horizontal and vertical capabilities in some measure. We can all improve in both areas throughout our lives.

Our changing leadership requirements from the farm gate through to the policy table, need to be discussed, understood, agreed on and acted on. They can then be incorporated into the key approaches, frameworks and processes for leadership development.

A dairy industry that is seen to welcome diverse views, encourage continual development, support leaders, prioritise wellbeing and align people behind a shared vision is one that people will want to be a part of.

As farms get bigger and more complex the need to attract, retain and develop the right people becomes critical for our industry’s sustainability. We need to make sure our leaders have the capability to effectively lead, support and empower our people.

What do we need to do to get there?

  • Establish a ‘language of leadership’ so we can talk about leadership with understanding. It will be a consistent, simple and practical way of articulating the leadership knowledge, skills, mindsets and behaviours expected of leaders at all levels across the industry.
  • Focus on vertical capability development of our people so they can build collaborative leadership and adaptive approaches. Vertical skills will enable us to develop broader perspectives, develop resilience, embrace diversity, negotiate change and support us in dealing with uncertainty.
  • Embed new vertical capability expectations in the way we attract, develop, engage, manage, recognise and retain people across the dairy chain. training in horizontal leadership skills of governance.
  • Ensure that for those who choose to take on formal leadership roles, there are also opportunities for training in horizontal leadership skills of governance.

What will we measure

  • Industry leadership skills, knowledge, behaviours and mindset expectations have been collaboratively defined, accepted and consistently demonstrated
  • Leadership programs consistently have a focus on vertical development and adaptive leadership approaches
  • New capability expectations are used throughout the industry when attracting, managing, developing and rewarding its people.

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