Success and failure for the next generation is dependent on many factors and leadership is one of them. Sometimes when working with people I observe some significant deficiencies that can adversely affect the chances of future success. Here is a list of the qualities that may help future agricultural leaders. Some of these qualities are qualities that parents, or others, can help mentor to the next generation.

1.) Morals, ethics, and values

I may sound old fashioned, but I feel there seems to be some major slippage in this area that often occurs without remorse. Both short term and long term there are some huge gains to be made by those who do thing right thing every time. Your values can be a great guide for decision making in all areas of your life in the future.

2.) Hard working

There is still no substitute for hard work. It seems like there is less interest in actual work and the future generations feel entitled. They want their dream job to be their first job. Everyone wants to start in management and tell others how to do the work! I suggest start by learning to do all the work yourself! Simply put, just learn how to shut up and work.

3.) Good communicator
I enjoy the conveniences of my smartphone, but that does not take the place of good communication. The phone may aid in communication, but the ability to verbally communicate with other people is huge and those who can communicate well will have a significant advantage. Texting works great for short messages but not for meaningful conversation and building a relationship.

4.) Problem-solvers
Life is not perfect, and things don’t always go our way. Accidents happen, machinery breaks down, detours come up and life happens. People who can deal with issues and solve problems efficiently and calmly are few and far between. Don’t get stuck and stay stuck with a problem. If you repeatedly have the same problem, make it a procedure to remedy the situation so it is
not a problem anymore.

5.) Understand finances
Why are so many people so bad with money? This is something that parents should spend more time with kids on all through life. Understand finances and what makes sense and what doesn’t.
I am amazed by the incredibly poor financial decisions that some people make that just seem like common sense. Sometimes people get by with bad decisions when there is too much money floating around, but in tough times, people who don’t understand finances get beat up. Understand cash flow and be realistic. Learn how to make a spreadsheet and understand your numbers.

6.) Ability to prioritize
This is a challenge for everyone, but some people have an amazing ability to focus while other times people get caught doing unnecessary things when important opportunities are passing buy. The ability to understand the big picture is critical. If you tend to lose focus make a list of priorities to remind yourself of what is important. Decision making is so much easier when you know your priorities.

7.) Ability to manage
After learning how to do the job yourself then your ability to manage will be so much easier because you will be able to relate better. After power washing a hog barn or loading hogs at 3 am you will learn to appreciate your help! See the good in people and often times they will give more effort. Determine who you want on your bus and then figure out which seat everyone should be in. Praise as much or more than you criticize. Humor can sure help even when frustrated.

8.) Teacher / Mentor
It is one thing to know something and it is another thing to be able to transfer your knowledge to another person. After having the knowledge yourself then figure out how to explain what you know to others. Mentoring requires a high level of patience recognizing that mistakes will likely be made.

9.) Be a good spouse / parent
I believe it is critical to be able to learn to respect, love, discipline, communicate, and lead your family unconditionally. It seems kind of lame to treat others you do business with better than your own family.

10.) Commitment to lifelong learning
There is so much to learn every day. When a person is willing to learn every day, you can truly improve every one of the previously mentioned qualities. Sometimes you just conscientiously must slow and have the radar on for learning opportunities because there is something to learn every day.

Leading is not easy and often it is quite challenging. Wherever you are you and whatever you do, you can be an effective leader if you work at it. Good leaders are in high demand. So get to work!