Defining Leadership

We talk about leadership a lot here at MidAtlantic Farm Credit and often I have to stop and remind myself of what does it mean to be a leader? How do we define leadership as an association and how can I lead as an individual?

So I sat down and put some of those ideas to paper:

1. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Like a lot of people, I like to start new projects. It’s exciting. But I try to slow myself down and remind myself that there is great value in preparing for a task. Whether it’s researching a new law that will impact our members, or studying the loan products available to serve our members, doing the required legwork first will always pay off in the end.
2. Don’t fall into the visually-challenged porcine syndrome. I put this into my presentation last year because I like to see people’s faces when I say it. Here’s the background: They say that even a blind hog will find an acorn occasionally. Leadership is like that—sometimes, you just stumble on the right answer to a problem. Or you accidentally uncover an idea that will help our association move forward and continue to serve our members in the best way possible. It’s important for leaders to recognize that there is a good deal of luck involved in success—and not become so enamored of their own brilliance that they forget the impact that luck can have.
3. Lend cautiously in good times and in bad times lend courageously. This is a leadership trait that speaks directly to Farm Credit employees, and I learned it early in my career from one of my first supervisors. Farm Credit isn’t like other lenders…we have a mission, and we will not stray from it. As the leader of this association, I try to make sure that we’re living up to that mission, and serving our membership.
4. Never is a long time. Finally, I think a good leader is one that recognizes that everything changes, and we can’t see all of those changes coming. That’s why it’s important to never say never…the world could change in an instant (remember September 2008 when the stock market plummeted?) and what had seemed like never could suddenly be now.

That’s a short overview of some of my thoughts on leadership. But I’d like to know your thoughts? After all, being a leader means listening as well as talking (or writing). It’s your turn – what is your insight?

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