Consultant explains leadership skills needed for communicating the vison of the ranch
Casper – During an Agricultural Leadership Symposium sponsored by the University of Wyoming’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources on Feb. 24, Dr. Lynn Gordon, founder of LEADER Consulting, LLC. explained how ranch leaders should communicate their vision.
Ranching operations with a clear mission and vision statement have an advantage over operations where workers and customers aren’t sure of the operation’s goals, she shared.
Creating a vision
A vision for the ranching operation acknowledges the direction the ranch is headed and provides knowledge for customers and employees to better understand the operation’s goals.
“Your vision is your ability to talk about the future with such clarity it’s like you’re talking about the past,” Gordon said. “We remember the past so easily and clearly.”
Gordon referenced a poll where 240,000 business leaders were asked how clear their mission and vison was. She noted 50 percent said their vision was crystal clear, while 50 percent said they didn’t know the vision of the organization.
“If the leader doesn’t know the vision of the organization, it’s hard to get engaged and hard to know what they’re getting out of bed in the morning to do,” Gordon said. “It’s hard to be motivated, and they get confused.”
Gordon recommended creating a vision ranch leaders, employees and customers can be passionate about.
“A vision needs to be clear, concise, motivating and compelling. It needs to create structure and provide context – sparking motivation,” she said. “The vision should be something making you want to jump out of bed in the morning.”
Communicating the vision
In order for a vision to serve a purpose, ranchers must engage their employees and customers.
“Communicating the vision is one of the most important steps in becoming a leader,” Gordon said. “The best leaders are the best communicators.”
She acknowledged the importance of communication saying, “A vision won’t go anywhere if you’re the only one who understands it.”
Gordon mentioned an effective vision statement must be simple and relatable. This includes using terms ranchers, employees and customers understand.
“Simplify the statement down because a long, complicated vision is difficult to understand,” Gordon said. “When you keep it simple it’s easier to get excited about.”
She also recommended ranchers include pictures with their statement. Photos of ranch hands properly caring for livestock helps reassure consumers they’re purchasing a safe product, and the photos make the vision statement more memorable for employees and consumers.
“Make the vision statement memorable enough so employees can remember it, want to share and talk about it,” said Gordon. “Pictures help make the vision relatable as it’s communicated.”
Tying a story into the vision statement is another great way to spread the vision, according to Gordon. Stories can be easier for people to remember and relate to than a definition.
“Great leaders tell stories,” Gordon said.
She recommends ranchers tell stories to build an emotional, compelling connection with their employees and customers.
“Storytelling builds trust and integrity and is highly effective,” she added.
When communicating the vision, communicate through multiple channels, Gordon said.
“The more channels and opportunities to understand the vision helps keep it at the top of individual’s minds,” Gordon said. “Repeat the message continually.”
Gordon also mentioned ranch managers should engage with their staff and take opportunities to connect one on one. Managers should share the vision and encourage feedback from stakeholders, customers and staff.
“Don’t always think the leader has all the answers – encourage questions and feedback,” she said.
One of the most important factors coming into play when developing a vision statement is the leader behind it all.
“You need to be an authentic leader and the leader they can trust,” Gordon said. “People buy into you as a leader before they buy into your vision – you have to gain respect from them by walking the talk, leading the example and having integrity.”
“Integrity is the number one trait a leader has to have, if they don’t have it, the employees and stakeholders won’t follow the vision,” she said.
Gordon referenced a quote by Simon Sinek, “Great leaders must have two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it effectively.”
Acknowledging the quote, she mentioned leaders need to fully understand their vision and know how to properly communicate it with customers and employees.
“Remember your role as a leader,” she said. “Do what you say you will do, walk the talk and be a role model.”
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.