Eighty-eight percent of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in 1955 are gone. Poof! Half of them withered because they had a manager in the role of CEO when they desperately needed a leader. The others were destroyed by a leader when a manager could have held the company together and grown it incrementally. The most important role of a board of directors is to know when their company needs a leader and when it needs a manager.

Managers prefer incremental change, evolution.

Leaders prefer exponential change, revolution.

Managers guard the status quo.   “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Leaders invent new ways of thinking.   “If it ain’t broke, break it, so we can create something new.”

Managers prefer a map and a path.

Leaders prefer unexplored territory.

Managers focus on planning and execution.

Leaders focus on improvisation and innovation.

Managers make organizational charts.

Leaders make messes.

Managers are given authority over others.

Leaders are voluntarily followed by others.

Managers mistakenly think they can lead.

Leaders mistakenly think they can manage.

~ Roy H. Williams

Kit’s Thoughts

In order for a family-owned business to grow and attain its greatest level of success, the business owner (including farmers and ranchers) needs to possess three distinctly different personalities. Ironically, these three personalities will have conflicting traits.

The three personalities I am referring to are Leader (Entrepreneur and Visionary), Manager and Technician. Family businesses, including family farms and ranches, need a good balance of all three. Unfortunately, most do not have the means to hire three people that excel at these different personalities. Consequently, it is difficult for most family farms and ranches to achieve their greatest level of success. It’s difficult – but NOT impossible!

We are all capable of operating under all three personalities. However, since one deals with the past, one deals with the present and one deals with the future, it’s very difficult to operate under more than one at a time. Most farmers and ranchers spend nearly all of their time in the technician’s role. They are doers. They live in the present – and like to be immersed in everyday work.

In my not-so-humble opinion, they would be much, much better off to hire a technician to do most of the everyday work, so they would have more time to be a leader and/or a manager. The time you spend on being a leader or a manager is worth ten times more than the time you spend on being a technician.

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