Our leadership development approach maximises reach and reduces barriers to participation. It is adaptable, flexible and contemporary.

When done well, leadership development ignites transformational change in individuals, businesses, communities and industries. As the dairy sector evolves and the expectations of leaders change, so too must our approach to leadership development.

Contemporary leadership challenges require contemporary leadership development approaches focusing on sustainable behavioural change, building broader collective leadership capabilities, and leveraging development opportunities within everyday situations; moving beyond a focus on developing for formal leadership roles to developing leadership across all levels and contexts.

Leadership development approaches are moving from leaders in isolation to connected leaders, from 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.

Traditional leadership development has been focused on acquiring new skills and competencies – essentially technical or skills based ‘horizontal development’.

Whilst this will remain important as a method for helping leaders build competence, they will also need to develop their broader capability to respond to complexity and ambiguity.

Vertical development focuses on building a leader’s ability to respond in more complex, systemic, strategic and interdependent ways, building their understanding about their own emotional health and understanding the individual and collective impact they have when leading themselves, leading others, leading their communities and the industry.

Farmers are also changing the ways in which they learn. Whilst there has been a decline in formal training, there has been an increase in farmers engaging in informal training. The structure and delivery of leadership development activities needs to ensure they are aligned to required capabilities, maximise reach, reduce barriers to participation, and cater for a range of learning modes, including expert- led guided learning, self-directed independent learning, and collaborative peer learning, enhanced though the appropriate use of technology.

Leadership development initiatives need to be flexible and adaptable to ensure they are accessible around work and life demands and support lifelong learning and development. Moving beyond the model of learning within a classroom, there is an ongoing opportunity to leverage a diverse range of ‘fit for purpose’ learning and development formats that lead to capability shifts within the industry, whether that be through specific targeted programs, on-the-job simulations and training, group activities and projects, secondments and placements, sharing of experiences through field days, on farm visits and cases studies, coaching and mentoring, networking and alumni groups.

In order to build leadership capability at all levels, a high priority needs to be given to providing a wide range of development opportunities that maximise reach and accommodate perceived needs and learning/ adoption modes. Whilst a focus on leadership development exists within the Dairy Industry, the prioritisation, investment in and development of leadership cannot be an exclusive process for the few who plan to go on to hold formal leadership positions in the industry or community.

To shift the culture and experience of leadership across the industry, we also need to ensure that our leadership development opportunities are relevant and impactful for people from all stages of life experience and backgrounds; young farmers, those new to farming, multigenerational farmers and those working to support the sector. The opportunity exists to leverage and collaborate across the industry in the development of leadership.

To enable people to embrace the notion that everyone is a leader and take on their leadership responsibility, as an industry we need to proactively encourage current, future and potential leaders

to identify and take ownership of their own development through impactful, co-ordinated and flexible learning pathways with clear application, reinforcement opportunities and a demonstrated return on investment.

What do we need to do to get there?

  • Ensure leadership development opportunities are provided in a variety of learning modes (e.g. collaborative, self-directed and guided) and formats (e.g. dedicated workshops, group activities, coaching and mentoring, on the job simulations) enabling flexible learning pathways and demonstrable learning outcomes.
  • Increase our ability to identify and embed leadership development and the reinforcement of learning within everyday industry activities (e.g. simulations, on the job coaching and mentoring, placements, shadowing, peer learning processes, alumni networks) as well as dedicated off the job programs.
  • Ensure that across the breadth of the current and future leadership development Initiatives there is a focus on:

    – both horizontal (technical competency) and vertical (behavioural change and emotional health) development

    – clear alignment to the broader identified Dairy leadership expectations,

    – building capabilities in all leadership contexts (e.g. Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading Systems), and

    – addressing the needs of current, emerging and future leaders across the full Dairy Chain (e.g. young farmers, those new to farming, multigenerational farmers, people working in our processing industry, and those working to support the sector).

    • Seek opportunities to leverage and collaborate within leadership development across the Dairy Chain, including learning frameworks, leadership development pathways, providers and partners and evaluation approaches.

What will we measure

  • Increase in variety of leadership development opportunities
  • Reporting on leadership development opportunities shows that:
  • participants in different circumstances were able to access them
  • they led to intended learning outcomes
  • The majority of leadership development opportunities are aligned with the dairy leadership expectations and build both horizontal and vertical capabilities
  • Increased leadership development opportunities are taking place within everyday industry activities
  • Collaboration is occurring between different providers and those involved in leadership development across the sector
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