Farmer’s Weekly – 23 August 2019

(Kiana) #1


What’s your leadership

style? Is it right for your

organisation? There’s

no need to be rigid; learn

to adapt your style to the


and task at hand.

Know your

leadership style


n the lead-up to the recent election,
the term ‘servant leadership’ was
used frequently by commentators
to describe the leadership style South
Africans were yearning for from incoming
political leaders. In fact, President
Cyril Ramaphosa recognised this.
“I pledge here today that I will serve
you, I will work with you, side by side,
to build the South Africa that we all
want and deserve,” he said in the closing
statement of his inauguration address.
I first came across the concept many
years ago while visiting a fellow farmer;
let’s call him Ian. We were in his farm
workshop, and he stopped to introduce
me to his workshop manager. As we
were turning to leave, Ian said: “By the
way, Tulani, will it be okay with you
if I take a few days off next week? My
dad’s been ill and I need to get down to
my folks and see how they’re doing.”
“Fine by me,” answered Tulani.
“Everything’s in good shape here.
Hope all is well with your dad.”
“Call me if I can help,” said Ian.
I was bemused. Here was the part-
owner and manager of the farm, asking
his workshop manager if he could
go on leave. What was going on?
“Why is it that you, the boss, are
asking Tulani, your employee, if you can
go off for a few days?” I asked Ian.
“I’d never go off for a few days without
checking with my guys,” he said. “They
depend on me as much as I depend on them.”
It was a great lesson for me. I only
realised later Ian is what’s now referred
to as a ‘servant leader’. He’d never
had any management training, but he
intuitively understood that a leader
serves his people and not the other
way round. The great success of the
business he manages is testimony to
the effectiveness of his leadership.

The early students of leadership
identified only three basic styles:

  • Authoritarian or autocratic – where what
    the boss said went, no questions asked.

  • Participative or democratic –
    where employees’ views were asked

for and taken into account.

  • Hands off – where employees were
    largely left to their own devices.
    But, of course, to identify only these
    three was a gross oversimplification. As
    time went on it was realised there were
    many more nuances and combinations.
    Today’s leadership literature identifies
    many more leadership styles, including:

  • Coaching
    More effective in building employees’ own
    capacity, these leaders tend to switch from
    making statements to asking questions.
    For example, when a mistake is made by
    someone, instead of saying, “That was a
    mess. In future do it this way,” they ask:
    “How can we improve on this next time?”

  • Visionary
    These leaders have a powerful
    ability to usher in periods of change
    by inspiring employees.

  • Pacesetter
    Here the focus is primarily on
    performance. These leaders set high
    standards and hold their team members
    accountable for hitting their goals.

  • Transactional
    Here we have hard-nosed commercial
    types focused on performance. They
    believe everything can be achieved by
    the right incentives, usually money,
    and disciplinary action for failure.

  • Bureaucratic
    These leaders expect their team members
    to follow the rules and procedures
    precisely as written. This, of course,
    is often necessary in highly regulated
    industries such as finance and healthcare.
    But back to servant leadership, epitomised
    in the famous call by John F Kennedy to
    Americans to “ask not what your country
    can do for you, but what you can do for
    your country”. Let’s wish Ramaphosa

luck. He needs it and so do we. (^) ▪FW
Peter Hughes is a business and
management consultant with 30 years’
farming experience. Email him
at [email protected].
Subject line: Managing for profit.
24 farmer’sweekly 23 AUGUST 2019

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