We have our third lesson from Jim Davis this week as he shares more of his experiences and what he has learned from the people he encountered along the way. Jim is a trusted colleague whom I have worked with for nearly ten years creating and delivering leadership development training programs.~ Todd
If you’ve been following these last two posts you’ll remember that I’m sharing a few leadership lessons I learned on the road with a small TV crew as we interviewed people from many different walks of life who worked closely with the land.
Our first lesson came from Loggers; about honestly and accurately assessing and understanding the impact you have on people, resources and environment.
Then we got on board with Fisherman (and women), who taught us to clearly identify our objectives. And to think through what resources (people, time, money) are available to reach those objectives, and where/when/how to most effectively deploy those resources.
This time we’re going to the farm.
I love farms and have a deep respect for Farmers. I’ve rarely encountered a job that requires more skills than farming. Here’s a partial list of specialty areas required to be a successful farmer: agronomy, finance, investment markets, mechanical engineering, strategic thinking/planning, computer software, soil science, banking, animal science, chemistry, biology. And that’s just a partial list! There are a LOT of leadership lessons on the farm, but we’re only going to focus on one.
Lesson #3…To get more milk, get to know the cows!
Come milking time a dairy herd files into the milking parlor single file. As they pass through the doors the dairy Farmer is able to tell you- about each and every cow- how much milk they are producing, how that compares to previous milking cycles, where she is in her current cycle, when she threw her last calf, and how healthy she is in general. Lots of data on lots of cows, sifted, sorted and applied to get the most sustained production from each cow.
As a leader in business I am dependent on the folks around me just as the dairy farmer is dependent on her herd. They do the work (produce the milk!). One of the best investments you can make is to pay attention to them as individuals.
Where is he in his personal development (cycle)?
Break this down into specific skills and knowledge sets. No person is either a total “rookie” or a total “expert”. Each of us is a mixed bag, depending on what skill we look at.
What is her current output?
Have some metric(s) that both of you can use to assess her production relative to appropriate expectations for her development level and role.
Where is he trending?
Up, down or stable. Don’t judge yet! Simply track the current production against previous “cycles”…or projects, goals, etc. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Has the role changed, or the team, or the complexity of the projects? Do you need to adjust your metrics?
What has she added?
Every so often a healthy dairy cow adds a calf to the herd. What has this associate added, either to the team, our output or relationships, or their own development? Have I acknowledged the addition? Is it the right time for me to encourage some addition?
Is he healthy?
Dairy cows are not milked endlessly. They are rested for long periods before starting again, so that their production does not go down from stress and fatigue. Human beings have the same limitation and need. If retention is important to you, and to sustain high levels of production, do not underestimate the importance of knowing who needs to rest and refresh.