Whatever got you to where you are today won’t necessarily get you to where you want to go in the future.

As the dairy industry continues to change, you are being asked to shift from production and operational issues to nutrient-management, public relations, expansion, financials, and risk-management issues, to name a few.

Some of these things will require that you expand your thinking. And, in some cases, you will need to modify some harmful behaviors with regard to other people.

Case in point: Mario, a herd manager at a dairy in Idaho, has become quite successful by bossing everyone around and not paying much attention to what they have to say.  He doesn’t try to understand a situation; he just scalds everyone when he gets upset. As the farm has grown, Mario has hired more and more people. But many of those people are frustrated because of Mario’s impatience and inability to compromise. Mario gets less performance and commitment from them as a result. What would people tell Mario if they could really “go for it” and tell him what they really think?

Many of us are not fully aware of the implications of what we do and say. This is particularly true when leading and managing other people.

True leaders seek to modify the behaviors that may be holding them back and rendering them less effective.

But it takes guidance. Sometimes, people in leadership positions need someone else to: 

  • Point out the bad behaviors.
  • Actually stop those behaviors that are causing the most havoc around you.
  • Demonstrate that with a slight behavioral tweak, you can achieve better leadership.

Managers can easily gain access to this information by asking those around them: (1) What should I keep doing? (2) What should I stop doing? and (3) What should I start doing? 

You will be amazed at what people have to share when you open it up like this.

In the earlier example, Mario might find it effective to stop bossing everyone around, and instead show up and ask a question or two to try to engage people in a conversation and understand what is going on.

The sooner you realize that “what got you here won’t get you there,” the faster you will start noticing and analyzing your own behaviors and change the ones that hold you back.

Jorge M. Estrada is president of Leadership Coaching Intl. in Puyallup, Wash.