Adapting is necessary to lead

View From the Paddock: Adapting is necessary to lead

Anna Cochrane, station manager.

Anna Cochrane, station manager.


No matter how old you are, each generation has some generational traits that have been crafted by the environment in which they grew up.


Last week the biennial rangelands conference was held in Longreach. COVID conditions forced organisers to adapt the delivery of the conference to an interactive on-line program rather than the originally planned face-to-face meeting.

If there is one thing that people in the rural industry have a long history of, it is adapting.

We modify equipment to work better, use unconventional materials to fix breaks and we constantly improve our production systems.

One of the things we are not as good at is adapting ourselves, specifically the way we manage and lead our work teams - be they staff or family.

In a recent conversation with some good friends who employ staff in the industrial and building sectors, there was general moaning about how soft the younger generation of workers are.

There is a reason that generations have differences of opinions when it comes to work.

No matter how old you are, each generation has some generational traits that have been crafted by the environment in which they grew up.

For example, the generation before baby boomers responded best to authoritarian commanding leadership due to the influence of the first and second world wars and the Depression made them grateful for any job.

For these people, you could throw anything at them, and they would do it; Baby Boomers accepted poor managers and positional leadership - they did what they were told with no questions asked.

Generation X, those people born between 1965 and 1980, prefer roundtable, consultative leaders who set a goal and motivate their team to achieve it.

Generation Y and Z are the generations that we are now working with as new entrants. They want to be empowered and like to build relationships, collaborate, participate, and be inspired to be creative in their workplace.

They want to work "with" an employer, not "for" an employer. They like to be coached, not directed and they like to feel like they are contributing and are working for a purpose.

For those of us running businesses who may be baby boomers or generation X'ers, the reality is that we cannot manage our young staff or family members the way we like to be managed.

Issuing orders and expecting them to be followed will only lead to frustration. There are so many jobs in the ag space at the moment with so few employees, that in order to attract and retain staff we have no other option but to adapt.

- Anna Cochrane, station manager


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