Report Synopsis

Practical applications for business growth through developing people

Holly Beckett

Great leadership qualities undoubtedly include having a clear vision and goals and effective communication to share these ideas with others.

Leadership development in agriculture has been recognised, critiqued and disseminated down to farmers for a number of years, learning from corporate industry and transposing into the Ag-sector, and there is much research and training already on offer within this subject.

This knowledge transfer has been successful within agriculture and looking back 20 years, this teaching may have at first been seen as ‘too corporate’ for the farming world, but as attitudes have slowly changed to adopt more of a corporate approach and recognise the benefits of these practices, behaviour has changed and in turn increased the productivity and profitability of the UK farming industry.

Knowledge transfer is recognised as a vital process and practice within any industry but how people then use this knowledge is arguably of more consequence to the development of the sector. ‘Investment in human capital’ has been shown to provide a 40% higher ROI vs ‘investment in knowledge capital’ and therefore the recognition of emotional intelligence and investing in soft skills was something I was very interested in my Nuffield Farming study, both within and outside of agriculture.

The objective of this study was to investigate firstly what emotional intelligence is and then identify practical tools for increasing emotional intelligence and developing leadership skills within employees in the Ag-sector, in order to increase business growth.

Travelling to the United States, Ireland and South Africa in order to look outside the farming industry to bring ideas and innovation back into the sector lay at the heart of the study. The report presents a number of practical and psychological tools that have been used to successfully develop emotional intelligence in the corporate sector that could be implemented in the agricultural sector to provide similar benefits.

The main tools identified were personality profiling, coaching, neuro-linguistic programming (NPL), developing mindfulness, and meditation. These are practical applications that can be introduced into any business and further develop the understanding of the mind to allow the progression of the four pillars of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness and social management.

The research undertaken for this report would suggest that companies with clear employee development programmes experience faster and more significant growth and most importantly, one size does not fit all and a holistic approach should be taken and, where possible, a personalised programme of development devised for individual employees.

By understanding ourselves and others better, we can be better leaders, better followers and work together more effectively to achieve any shared vision or goal.

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