Leadership Techniques

Leadership Techniques: Farmin’ a Little Cotton

I have a friend who “farms a little cotton.” He has over 1,000 acres of his own cotton, beans, and tobacco, and gins for a couple of counties. All this in his multi-million-dollar cotton gin of his own design. A few years ago, in an average year, he ginned a little over 12 million pounds of the white stuff. Yeah, he farms a little. To say he is successful is an understatement. Yes, he has a first class set of brains; yet it is his humility that shines.

One of his leadership techniques is that when something goes wrong, he first pauses and asks, “What did I do wrong?” He really penetrates to the heart of what part he played in a problem. This goes to the heart of character, introspection. And he does it with utmost humility. Thus, he first analyzes and amends how he behaves, then implements those changes and does it over and over. This is a leader!

This helps him better understand his influence on processes, how his farming team works together and how the system can be improved. This is most wise and perceptive because he is also modeling great leadership, which his sons, workers, and neighbors emulate. It also sets the tone, example really, for taking the personalities out of his agribusiness systems and focusing on processes, which become better and better. The whole becomes greater than the sum.

More than that, this is only one indication of who he is to his neighbors, his church, and the wider community. The National Cotton Council turns to him on occasion to present their case for cotton profitability to Congress.

I think about him very much and consider myself lucky beyond description to share a piece of carrot cake with him in his office lined with leather bound classics. He is much, much more than “just a farmer.”

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