What leadership characteristics are required for the New Zealand primary industry to achieve the transformational change required?

Executive summary

The New Zealand primary industry is operating in challenging times. There is much pressure for the primary industry to instigate change, with a level of tension not seen since the 1984 deregulation and removal of subsidies. The reality facing our industry is that time has been allowed to march on without enough progress having been made to address the global and national challenges upon us. New Zealand farmers and growers are no longer able to manage their business within the four pegs of their boundary in isolation. Instead decisions made inside the farm gate increasingly have consequences on others in our communities, district/region, and beyond.

This research considered what leadership characteristics are required to support the primary industry in bringing about change. The project explores case studies of transformational change that have been successful and/or which could have been carried out better and/or achieved more. The report also reflects on characteristics and examples of good and not-so-good leadership gained through semi-structured

The aim and purpose of the research was to identify what leadership is and how it can facilitate or hinder transformational change. The research aimed to critically assess, compare and contrast characteristics of leadership which are displayed while undertaking transformational change. This type of reflection is important because change commonly has aspects that are unknown or ambiguous. Leadership, by virtue of its definition, is leading people to navigate ambiguity. This report provides insights and frameworks for tools to support leaders.

The methodology comprised a literature review, three case studies and semi-structured interviews analysed using a deductive approach. The research demonstrates the need to address challenging issues early in order to gain agreement as to the way forward, with collective buy in and a shared understanding around the urgency to change. For this to occur, the research demonstrates that people want to understand ‘the why’ and be ‘taken on the journey’ when being led.

Given the extent of the challenges facing famers and growers to make changes on farm, New Zealand farmers and growers deserve the best leadership. This project is important when considering the issues facing leadership within the industry, and seeks to challenge the status quo with a view to encouraging change and how we are leading our industry (across primary sectors) in these extraordinary times.

1. The chair of the Board’s for Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Dairy NZ to conduct a review of their Director’s appetite to support leading change on climate emissions reductions jointly with Ministry for Primary Industries.
2. All of the primary industry levy bodies to implement a change framework, be transparent about what it is, and have accountability to achieve milestones, within a stepped process.
3. The Ministry for Primary Industries, in collaboration with levy bodies to survey farmers about what farmers and growers are seeking in terms of leadership, providing a foundation for opinions to be heard on these matters.

Grow. Advance. Lead.

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