Minding Ag's Business

Power of Positive Leadership

Katie Micik Dehlinger
By  Katie Micik Dehlinger , Farm Business Editor
Good leaders use a metaphorical telescope to create and implement a vision of what they want their business to grow into over the long term. (Photo courtesy of Tobias Lindman, CC BY 2.0)

Farmers have a lot of good reasons to be down in the dumps: razor-thin profit margins, the trade war, a tough growing season, a delayed harvest and much more.

With a list that long, it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook, but it's worth the effort. Research shows positive leadership is a competitive advantage.

"Positive people sell more. They have better businesses. They live longer. They have better relationships. It's all there in the research," said Dave Gordon, co-creator along with his brother Jon Gordon of the transformational leadership program "Driver of Positive Change."

Some people are naturally more positive than others, but Gordon said with practice, everyone can become a little more positive.

"It's really about the stories that you tell yourself," Gordon said. Consider what you believe about your business. Is it doomed to fail in this environment, or do you see it as an opportunity to improve your operational efficiency?

"Your beliefs control your thoughts, which control your actions. If you change your beliefs, it changes what you think about, and then when we change what we think about, that changes what we do."


He suggested using two metaphorical tools -- a telescope and a microscope -- to create and implement a positive vision of what you want for your business. The telescope represents the long view to seek what you want to achieve. The microscope can help you look at the details to determine what you need to change to make that big picture a reality.

Once you have a vision, there are a number of steps you can take to bring more positivity into your business culture.

-- Confront, transform and remove negativity. He suggested getting rid of energy vampires -- the people who tend to suck the life out of you and/or your business -- or at least minimizing their influence. Start by modeling the type of behavior you want to see in others.

"One thing that we've learned is that great leaders do not complain," he said.

-- Choose faith over fear. It's really easy to get into an if-then downward spiral. If yields fall, then you won't be able to repay your loan. If you're not able to do that, then you'll go out of business, etc. "The outcome hasn't happened yet, but still we predict it's going to be negative," Gordon said. "We need to have faith there will be a positive outcome. We need to lead with optimism and belief that something good is going to happen."

-- Take a gratitude walk. He suggested clearing your mind of everything that's stressing you out and taking five minutes to walk around your business. Choose one thing to focus on, and mentally explain to yourself why you're grateful for it.

"You cannot be stressed and blessed at the same time," Gordon said.

Katie Dehlinger can be reached at Katie.dehlinger@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @KatieD_DTN



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