Author: Bernie Erven, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, Ohio State University
Every dairy farm, like every team, needs leadership. Through leadership, managers affect the behavior of people in the business. Motivated employees are one of the most important results of effective leadership. Most successful managers are also successful leaders. They get people to help accomplish farm goals. Accomplishing farm goals, however, is not enough to keep employees motivated. Helping employees accomplish their own personal and career goals is an important part of motivation.
Leaders influence their followers’ behavior through communication, group dynamics, training, rewards and discipline. Leadership and motivation are interactive. The more motivated the followers, the more effective the leader; the more effective the leader, the more motivated the followers.
Leaders understand that they have power and they understand the source of their power: position held, ability to reward, ability to coerce, expertise, personal appeal and charisma.
Being autocratic or democratic is the usual way of thinking about leadership. Autocratic leaders depend on their authority and their power that come from being an owner of the business or occupying a high position. Democratic leaders depend on personal power, participative problem solving and joint decision-making. Being only autocratic or democratic usually limits one's effectiveness as a leader.
An alternative to choosing between autocratic and democratic leadership is to be a situational leader. Situational leaders are able to adapt their leadership style to fit their followers and situations in which they are working. This says, for example, that the same employer of three people may use very different actions in leading each of them.
Managers using situational leadership will make conscious choices between their use of directive behavior and supportive...