Merriam-Webster defines management as “the act or art of managing: the conducting or supervising of something (as a business).” A manager is defined as “a person who conducts business or household affairs or a person whose work or profession is management.” Merriam-Webster defines a leader as “a person who has commanding authority or influence” and leadership as “the act or an instance of leading” or the “capacity to lead.”
Consistent with Merriam-Webster, Kotter explains management as “the set of processes that can keep a complicated system of people and technology running smoothly.” Hence, management is planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, controlling, and problem-solving. Kotter describes leadership as “a set of processes that creates organizations in the first place or adapts them to significantly changing circumstances.” He indicates that leadership defines the future with a vision and strategies, aligns people with the vision, and inspires them to achieve the vision despite obstacles.
Managing is important. Leading is important. Employees at all levels can have the capacity to be leaders and provide leadership. It takes both management and leadership to effectively bring about change. For you as a feed and grain manager to effectively bring about change in your business, you must not only manage it, but you must also lead it. You must examine your business with an outward view of opportunities and threats, and respond to continuously changing situations and circumstances. Provide vision for those who work for you and empower them to help bring about changes.
The take-home message
Being a continuously successful manager and a leader in the feed and grain industry requires significant learning. More often than not, leaders develop their skills over time and through life-long learning.
Charles Darwin once said that “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Change will continue. If you want to make a difference as a leader in your business now and in the future, then start by making a difference in yourself and in those who work for you.
Make yourself a life-long learner and encourage others to do so as well.
Dr. Christine Wilson is the assistant dean in the College of Agriculture and associate professor agricultural economics at Kansas State University. Dr. John Foltz is associate dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID.