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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Oct 25, 2018

A leader on today's farm wears a lot of "hats," holding ultimate accountability for every aspect of the operation. This week, Dean explores the four activities a farm leader must regularly undertake to keep things running smoothly.

LEARNING: IT IS NOT A “STAGE” OF LIFE. ONCE FORMAL LEARNING ENDS, THE REAL LEARNING BEGINS
1. Learning cannot be delegated. One should not make a habit of telling others to go get good at something instead of tackling it oneself. We can end up handicapping ourself for good decision-making if we put the onus of basic understanding on others.
2. A leader does not have to be an expert on every aspect of the business, but should know enough basics to be able to get the rest of the necessary learning from the doing. It takes mistakes to truly learn.
3. Fostering learning in others is crucial. A leader should create an atmosphere that encourages curiosity and increases learning.

KNOWING: SPECIFICALLY, THE PROACTIVE RESPONSIBILITY OF A LEADER TO STAY INFORMED; “ACTIVE KNOWLEDGE”
1. A leader must take responsibility to take action and know what is going on in the business at all times.
2. This means a leader might have to set up some sort of reporting system to keep them informed of what’s going on. The goal is to be not only knowledgeable, but also informed.

DECIDING: WHETHER BY THE TEAM OR THE LEADER, THE ORGANIZATION MOVES FORWARD WHEN DECISIONS ARE MADE
1. There is a decision-making spectrum for leaders. At one end is the leader who wants to only spend time on the big-picture, major decisions; on the other end is the leader who wants to be involved in every day-to-day decision and not entrust anyone else to make decisions on behalf of the organization. Eventually, if growth is a goal, the latter will have to begin loosening their hold on daily decisions and entrust them to others—or else they themselves will bottleneck the company’s growth.
2. Be clear about the goal. It can be easy to lost track of what we’re doing when blinded by everyday decisions.
3. Look for more than simply two options. Find new and creative ways to solve the problem.
4. Evaluate each option for potential risks and rewards. Might a certain choice be an impediment down the road?
5. Take action before you have 100% of the information. You could gather information literally forever if you wanted to. At some point we have to be satisfied with the data we have and commit to a course of action.

DOING: TAKING ACTION BEFORE THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY CLOSES, BUT NOT TOO EARLY
1. If we wait too long—learning, gathering information or trying to decide—the team can see us as a timid and uncertain leader. If we charge into action without spending enough time in the previous three steps, we can be seen as impulsive and reactive.
2. Be clear about the goal. It can be easy to lost track of what we’re doing when blinded by everyday decisions.
3. Look for more than simply two options. Find new and creative ways to solve the problem.