Nuffield report outlines the importance of leadership in farm success

Chris Manley

Somerset-based agricultural manager Chris Manley NSch 2021 has published his Nuffield Farming report entitled ‘Leading your farm to success’, sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Farmers with Savills.

The full report is now available on the Nuffield Farming report library and his report video is available on the Nuffield Farming YouTube channel. Chris presented the findings of his report at the 2023 Nuffield Farming Conference in Exeter. A recording of his presentation is available here.

During his Scholarship, Chris travelled to the Netherlands, USA, Brazil, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Rwanda to understand the qualities of a good leader and to map out how outstanding leadership can be achieved in agriculture.

Leadership is an area within agriculture which often lacks attention,” says Chris in his report. “Despite being natural leaders and innovators, due to the nature of their work many farmers don’t fully understand the value that good leadership can have on their business. Farms must aspire to be a great place to work to improve their reputation, employee retention and recruitment prospects.

He notes that there a number of ways that people can become leaders in agriculture: “‘Grass-roots’ leadership is possible within agriculture, where everyone involved in food production can make a contribution. By working with others and exchanging ideas, small ideas can turn into lasting innovations.

“Leaders can work with employees to produce farms which become great places to work. Looking after all the needs of the people who work for you will result in employees who are committed to, and take pride in, the business they work for.

In Kenya and Rwanda, Chris saw the importance of leadership within the community. He also found that successful leaders take care of themselves and those around them to create a strong team.

Farmers must prioritise their own physical and mental health to build resilience. Leaders must be role models for a caring attitude and cultivate a strong support network for themselves and those they work with. Good leadership is characterised by developing self-knowledge, knowing your employees and knowing your community.

Study objectives

  • Understand what the qualities of a good leader are.
  • Map out how outstanding leadership can be achieved within an agricultural setting.


  1. We can learn how to lead agricultural businesses by speaking to others outside of agriculture.
  2. You can be formally trained in leadership or you can decide to lead based on your own convictions, known as ‘leadership without authority’.
  3. Employees will only reach their potential if they are supported, and you must be willing for them to leave if they develop.
  4. Neglecting leadership in your community can harbour future problems for farm businesses which may be more significant than you think.
  5. Knowing yourself is a critical part of improving your own leadership.