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Utilising transformational leadership to increase team performance: A dairy farming perspective

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Executive Summary

Leadership is a widely researched and analysed phenomena. Done well or poorly, it affects team members, their performance and business outcomes on many levels. Leadership theory has developed over time from a focus on the characteristics of the leader to a new perspective which highlights the relationship between leader and follower. Having formally considered the charisma and personality of the leader paramount, theory has moved to consider the ways in which the leader-follower relationship can be strengthened and can affect team performance as a whole. Transformational leadership is an engaging, inspiring and motivational style of leadership, which can be applied with success on a dairy farm, affecting team members, leaders, daily operation, business outcomes and the wider industry as a whole.

This paper conducts a literature review and a survey of leaders on dairy farms to consider the application of transformational leadership on farm. A model of leadership developed by Kouzes and Posner (2012) is considered in particular and found to be practical, effective and worth on-farm leaders engaging with. 54 on-farm leaders completed the 17-question survey, which broadly suggested that respondents recognise the importance of their leadership on their people and performance. Survey results also suggest that confidence in leading effectively could be improved and that while respondents understood the importance of key transformational approaches and tools, their use and application of them on-farm could be strengthened.

Respondents also highlight particular areas of challenge for leadership on dairy farms, which are addressed in this paper. Recommendations are also made for individual leaders and for the wider industry as a whole.

Utilising transformational leadership to increase team performance: A dairy farming perspective