Proceedings

PR – Leadership Development In The UK Farming Industry: Outcomes Of A Leadership Programme

Among the changes that the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is demanding from the UK farm industry, is the urgent need for a different style of leadership. The economic support to farmers has been decoupled from production and moved toward environmental practices, creating a totally different economic environment where farmers are more exposed to market forces and public assessment (Curry, 2002) Previous research e.g. Alliston (1998) has shown that the new reality requires a cultural change in the farming industry where leaders should be very conscious of the importance of alliances to add political strength and financial viability instead of the traditional charismatic leader from the front and top of organizations. The objectives of the paper are: a) to review recent research findings about the dynamics of leadership in the context of rapidly changing agricultural industry; b) to describe the Leadership Course of the Institute of Farm Management, and analyse it’s development over the last six years regarding the pursuit of its two main objectives, the development of individuals and opportunities for networking. The paper presents the results and analysis of a survey conducted in 2006 among 20 former participants, concerning which are the most important benefits that they have gained after the completion of the course, and how it has affected their career progression and individual achievements. The results confirm the findings of Mintzberg and Collinson. Mintzberg (2004)found that to develop good leaders, programmes like this should focus on encouraging active discussions and challenging interactions among participants, guest speakers and experts. Collinson (2005, 2006) concluded that studies of leadership need to develop a much deeper understanding of the complex interaction between leaders and followers, and also highlighted the tensions, contradictions and ambiguities that typically characterize the dynamics of leaderships. Additionally, the results show a significant increase in self-confidence, and stress the importance of networking. The paper concludes that the course has a positive effect on the participants, encouraging a more involving attitude and preparing them for demanding and challenging positions of high responsibilities.

Key words: leadership, personal-development, networking, course-planning.

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Author(s): Alliston, J. C., Gonzalez-Diaz, F., Norman, L.

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Organizations(s): Institute of Agricultural Management, Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, Gloucestershire