Future leaders come together to hone skills

Leadership skills came under the spotlight during the past fortnight for sixteen individuals currently working in management positions within the agricultural sector.

The 19th Challenge of Rural Leadership, held at Dartington Hall in Cornwall, combined tutorials, interactive workshops and a ‘live’ case study task. A plethora of speakers offered insight into their own leadership journeys, within the context of the political, financial and environmental challenges affecting the future of rural industries.

Amongst the high profile and leading industry speakers were Life Peer Baroness Hazel Byford and the President of the NFU Meurig Raymond.

Differing perspectives on sustainable intensification were covered by Professor Allan Buckwell, President of the British Agricultural Economics Society; and Compassion in World Farming’s Chief Executive Philip Lymbery.

The group came away with an insight into how to manage the responsibility of a leadership role, and with the tools and motivation to understand and overcome their own strategic business challenges.

Course delegate Chris Manley, Tesco’s Agriculture Manager for Lamb and National Federation of Young Farmer’s Club (NFYFC) Vice Chairman, identified the vital role of leadership in developing supply chains.

“If we all work together, then we can be more responsive to current and future challenges in order to continue to produce excellent quality British food for the customer.

“The strategic tools I’ve gained from this course have equipped me with the ability to plan and set more effective goals in achieving long term agriculture strategy at Tesco and to develop into a potential chairmanship role at NFYFC.”

Warwickshire arable farmer Will Forsyth is leaving the two week learning and development opportunity re-energised. “It’s been a chance to step away from the home farm and challenge myself. Sharing the experience with like-minded people is particularly important.”

Catherine Linch of agricultural PR and marketing firm Pinstone Communications added that gaining an insight into differing personality traits and an introduction to new problem solving and creative thinking exercises will prove invaluable.

“It’s rare to have the opportunity to focus for this period of time on your own professional development, in an environment that stretches and you and stimulates ‘out of the box’ thinking. It’s been challenging, but hugely rewarding too.”

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