Forging an agricultural leadership path

The Gauge: Forging an agricultural leadership path


Leaders aren't born overnight. Leadership needs to be viewed by our sector as an on-going journey writes Youth Voices Leadership Team chair Dr Jo Newton.

Never has there been a time more ripe for transformational leadership in Australian agriculture.


Leaders aren't born overnight. Leadership needs to be viewed by our sector as an on-going journey.

Dr Jo Newton

Dr Jo Newton

Six months ago I wrote about the need for the plethora of leadership development programs to be reimagined into programs with follow-through - programs that extend beyond a two-day conference or week long workshop.

Since then I've had plenty of time to reflect. My view on the need for a long-term lens when investing in leadership development hasn't changed.

But, in the short term we need to ensure the dollars already invested in the cause aren't wasted.

When generously sponsored to attend an industry event, conference or workshop - which typically last two to three days - how can we ensure the benefits of said opportunity are ongoing and have follow-through?

To a large extent this comes down to the individual beneficiary seeking the follow-through themselves. It's up to us to 'hustle'.

I asked Josh Farr, Founder of Campus Consultancy - who specialises in equipping young people with the skills to stand out in the 21st century workforce - for his top three tips on how to ensure attendance at an industry event has follow-through.

Josh says:

  1. Build online and offline relationships. Connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn or Twitter. Post-event; continue that relationship online - messaging/email - or take it offline again, asking to meet for coffee or a mentoring session.
  2. Have an elevator pitch prepared, ~20-30 seconds about who you are and why you do what you do. When asked, "What do you do?"; Rather than say, "I work as an X for Y", you can say, "I grew up on broadacre farm and always knew I wanted to be an agronomist. I'm now working in Western Victoria helping farmers adopt precision ag tools. On the weekends, I love to ..."; Adding some personality keeps it interesting and makes you memorable.
  3. If you're nervous about introducing yourself to new people or crowds make you uncomfortable, be strategic. The line for coffee is a great place to strike up a conversation.
  4. For those 'more experienced and wiser,' you have a vital role in empowering emerging leaders to grow and develop. Next time you're at an event, strike up a conversation in the coffee line, accept the LinkedIn invite and start a conversation, offer to be a mentor.

Go first.

We need to come together as an industry and put more structure behind the development of our future leaders. We need to offer them support from all angles and respond to what they say they need next.

If we stop reinventing the wheel and started putting four-wheels on the cart, we can travel in the right direction, together.

For our sustainable future, experienced leaders and emerging leaders need to work together. The emerging need to be brave: step up, get involved, take a chance.

The experienced need to reach back down and pull us up.

By working together, we can ensure that our leadership journeys don't end when the industry event does.

- Youth Voices Leadership Team chair Dr Jo Newton


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