Tim Miller, FY23 CAES Alumni Board president, recently spoke to the UGA CAES Student Leadership Banquet. As you read his remarks and are inspired to become a volunteer leader with the CAES Alumni Association please complete the volunteer form to connect, engage and celebrate with alumni, students and friends today!
Never have we had access to such an amount of data and information, nor has the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences hosted such well-educated students with experiential learning as today. As the workforce moves from a focus of higher positions to work-life balance, the need for stronger leadership is evident.
My 36 years in the agricultural and construction equipment industries have taught me there are three key types of leadership. I believe the most valuable, and needed, are Servant Leaders.
We all know the first type, a manager. One who may or may not share the vision and roadmap to the destination of a project, process, or company goal. Knowledge is power to them. They instruct their team leaders on what to do, how to do it, and in many cases watch over them to ensure they are doing their way. All the while stiffening creativity, fresh ideas, and personal growth. It is all about I, me, my.
Leaders recognize these pitfalls in their endeavors. They form teams with project leaders, they establish the vision for the whole team, keeping it in view for the duration. They lay out a roadmap so each team lead and team member understand the direction. They encourage collaboration, communication, and cross-pollination of information.
Then there are leaders who understand the next level – Servant Leadership. To borrow a familiar farm phrase; “we roll up our sleeves and jump in amongst them”. Servant leadership is not micro-management. Quite the opposite. Servant leadership is about enablement, empowerment, encouragement, and teamwork toward a common vision and shared success. They succeeded, we had issues, I failed.
There is an occurrence that I really can’t explain, but I have seen it time and again; the leader who promotes their team, by name, receives higher recognition from their management than managers who are promoting themselves. This is a hard concept; it is counterintuitive to the way we are wired as humans. When reporting out on a project as a servant leader lift up your team, talk about their successes, mentioning them by name, don’t worry about your success.
Naturally, as a long-time learning & development person, I encourage you to have a learning mindset. Make it part of who you are. Some areas to learn from: learn from your mistakes. When mistakes happen recognize them, admit them (not just for yourself but for your team also, you are their leader), own them, learn from them, and then let them go. If you dwell on them, you will repeat them. Learn from your managers and leaders. There are good and bad managers, you can learn from both. Build a network of support and advisors. Pick those who carry your way of thinking, and some that differ. This will help you with fresh perspectives and ideas. Lastly, read. Challenge yourself to read at least one book per month; leadership, self-development, and a fun one every now and then.
We’ve considered several items around servant leadership from a high-level perspective. I would like to close with a reminder of the basics. Above all, be a person of integrity and maintain it. It can be lost with one decision. Keep in mind there is always someone watching you. They may be someone who can help you. Do everything to the very best of your ability, commit to being the best – you are an Ag Dawg after all. Just do what’s right. Have a positive attitude. Have fun. Be an encourager. Show people you care about them – a favorite phrase should be “…how can I help you…”.
All these things lead to trust.
This is a Servant Leader!
No one is always a follower. Everyone is responsible for something at some point. To be a manager, a leader, or a servant leader is strictly your choice.