Small Bites – Practical Tips for Farm Resiliency – Leadership

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and family well-being. They are written by coaches from UMaine Extension’s Farm Coaching team. Farm Coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm families.

Each farm’s leadership team is different. Leadership doesn’t only mean “I am the boss.” Sometimes it’s a “What do we want this to be?” In the best cases, leadership means guiding, tending, caring for the whole system by seeing the individual parts with clear eyes. Leaders hear and see the people, place, plants, animals, equipment and work individually in some cases, and collectively in others.

There are many different types of leadership, and many different leaders work to build successful farm teams and strong community connections.

Are you a servant leader? A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. (Read more at

Are you a transformational leader?  Researchers and authors Bass and Riggio explain: “Transformational leaders…are those who stimulate and inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their own leadership capacity. Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers’ needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization.” (Read more at

Sometimes we find ourselves default  toward a controlling style when in fact we want to include our whole team in decision making. Examine these leanings and learn about other ways if it’s not working for you.

Leadership is a skillset that requires humility and honesty,  growth and self-reflection. In other words, great leaders are emotionally intelligent. Leadership is a great privilege. And leadership can be learned. Find out more about your style and other types of styles. Examine cultural, historical, and societal aspects to leadership. Are you collaborative? Are you able to lead the way you want to? Have you had good experiences in the past with being led? More on culture and leadership here.

If it’s something you want space to reflect upon, sign up with a farm coach to do some thinking about what kind of leader you want to be.