Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University PressLeadership in Agriculture: Case Studies for a New Generation, by John Patrick Jordan, Gale A. Buchanan, Neville P. Clarke and Kelly C. Jordan If the world’s food supply and natural resources are to be sustained for future generations, visionary leadership is a must. And what better model to look to than the virtues known since antiquity?
That’s the gist of a new book, “Leadership in Agriculture: Case Studies for a New Generation.” Its authors pull upon their own global experience in agriculture and critique the outcomes based on character and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude.
This collaborative work by John Patrick Jordan, Gale Buchanan, Neville Clarke and Kelly Jordan pulls on their various administrative roles in the military, U.S. Department of Agriculture, state land-grant institutions and academia. Case studies look at a wide variety of issues that demanded strong leadership — from how a regional agricultural lab survived Hurricane Katrina to how leaders from around the nation were able to develop a shared vision to fund agriculture research.
“In essence, character is the sum total of an individual’s personality traits and the link between that person’s values and behavior,” the authors wrote. “Character helps enhance effectiveness.”
Effective leaders, they add, must have the modern counterparts of the ancient virtues: wisdom, justice, moderation and courage.
“The case studies are from our own experience – the good, the bad and the ugly,” said John Patrick Jordan of New Orleans, formerly USDA’s Cooperative State Research Service CEO and Agriculture Research Service Southern Regional Research Center director. “The book is about the act of motivating people to want to follow you in a direction with a specific goal, and that’s different than management. Fortitude and temperance, for example, are things that you don’t normally see in management books.”
Clarke explained that leadership is getting people to do what needs to be done while management is “the doing, the practice.”
“It’s not a textbook on procedures but a philosophical approach with general principles illustrated in case studies. We go past the ‘cookbook’ to how leadership works in diverse situations,” said Clarke of College Station, former Texas Agriculture Experiment Station director and U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Center for Foreign Animal Disease Defense head.