Leadership is Language – Our Young Farming Champions channel the gurus to deal with their nerves

At Picture You in Agriculture we train emerging leaders initially through our Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program; graduates of which become our Young Farming Champions (YFC).

We encourage them to be life-long learners and provide them with ongoing opportunities to be critical and creative thinkers and informed and active citizens of the communities the work, live and play in.

They see everyday as a new opportunity to enhance those skills.

One way we did this during COVID was to develop the  Leadership is Language webinar series where Young Farming Champions have the opportunity to host a webinar and interview some of the world’s foremost thought leaders on communicating how we can show leadership by the language and communication styles we use.

Our guests challenge us to change the way we talk as leaders by learning the language of creativity, collaboration and commitment. They  illustrate the powerful intersection of communication and leadership and offer simple steps to transform your thinking, your influence and the lives in your span of care and how we can reinvent our leadership style to meet the evolving demands of the new marketplace.

In the first series our amazing guests were:

  • How to invoke reflective practice and bring your empathy, curiosity and openness, listening skills to the conversation with social science researcher Dr Nicole McDonald
  • Great leadership is not a position or authority, it is a mindset with human agronomist Rebel Black
  • Invest in yourself and learn to have the important conversations with succession planner Sally Murfett
  • Language is spoken language, body language and listening with Australian Rural Leadership program mentor Graham Smith
  • Put yourself in their shoes and support your audience to map out their own  journey with international agriculture researcher Francesca Earp  
  • Picking your fight “The ally fight” – who we are helping with leadership coach Dave Stachowiak
  • Leadership is about understanding your client or customer with Yacker co-founder Emma Ayliffe

The second series has kicked off in October with a similarly impressive line-up including:

  • Empowering to future consumers to tread lightly on the planet with  OzHarvest FEAST director Amelia Berner
  • Why we should embrace the art of being curious with leadership coach Michael Bungay Stanier
  • Innovators and Changemakers taking the lead with Austral Fisheries CEO David Carter
  • Telling the Water Story with communication expert Monique White
  • How do we learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure everyone comes home – worker health and safety with Austral CEO  David Carter 
  • Anticipatory Leadership – How do we overcome the psychosocial barriers and be on the front foot with Catherine Marriott and Alison Penfold

With such a star-studded list of guests how did our YFC prepare for their interviews and how did they find the experience? What have they learnt that will help them (and others) in the future?

Lucy Collingridge was thrown in the deep end as the opening act for Leadership is Language when she spoke with Nicole McDonald, and she followed this up with the internationally acclaimed Michael Bungay Stanier in Series 2.

“I have done a bit of microphone commentary/interview work at shows and our Cootamundra Hereford Heifer Show but this rewarding experience threw me well out of my comfort zone.

Before my interview I listened to Brene Brown’s podcast about FFT’s (effing first times). She speaks about naming the new thing, normalising it and embracing the suck – that it will be hard, I will feel nervous and intimidated but it won’t last forever. I needed to deal with the nerves to get to the good part.

In my first interview with Nicole I was able to catch up with her prior to our interview however I didn’t have this with Michael. I honestly didn’t know who he was so I did my research and learnt who he is and what he has accomplished. Speaking to such an amazing human with so much knowledge was daunting but Michael is such an engaging and open person.

I thoroughly enjoyed our chat, especially as he has no background in agriculture so he was a set of fresh eyes to the issues we face in the industry. I can’t wait to listen back to our chat another 10 times to keep getting things from it!”

Anika Molesworth, already an accomplished speaker, presenter and interviewer, sat down for a chat with Francesca Earl and found you can learn something from every experience.

“It was fantastic to have a chat with the inspiring Franny Earp, who has such depth of knowledge on communicating in different socio-cultural settings. It was hard not to get lost in her adventurous stories from working in South Africa to Laos. I was excited to learn from her and hear how she overcame challenges in communication that comes with doing international agricultural work. My questions came from a personal curiosity and that helped the conversation to flow seamlessly… it was difficult to end it because I was enjoying our chat so much!”

Emma Ayliffe was both interviewer (when she spoke with succession planner Sally Murfett) and interviewee (when she spoke about her new app Yacker).

“The Leadership is Language series has been exciting, fun, inspiring and challenging, but also a great opportunity to gain confidence and practices skills in interviewing, questioning and recording.

It was quite daunting to be at the helm of creating a conversation with Sally that was going to be interesting and relevant for a topic that can be controversial and difficult to breach (succession planning) but tapping into her expertise was phenomenal.

Preparation for the interview took the form of reading and researching Sally and her role in agriculture and talking to my partner and his family about their burning succession questions. From there Sally and I had a quick zoom to meeting to discuss what we were going to go through and I watched a few interviews on YouTube to see what I liked in an interviewer.

The bigger concerns I had were ensuring we captured the key points and ideas …. and hoping that the internet held up! I felt the nerves when we started but being a recording we reminded ourselves we had the ability to cut and change where needed.

The best part for me was talking to an amazing person about a topic that was extremely relevant to me.”

Here is a wrap of Leadership is Language – Series 1.

Our very first Leadership is Language conversation opened with YFC Lucy Collingridge talking with social science researcher Dr Nicole McDonald. Nicole spoke about how she found agriculture through psychology and how communication is a key tool to uniting this diverse industry.

“…..communication is how we connect and understand each other. Words are absolutely important, but then it’s also your tone of voice, it’s your volume, it’s your self-expression; it’s what you’re wearing. All of these things send messages about who you are, what you’re trying to convey. Communication is much bigger than just text or words…”

For the second conversation we engaged friends of the YFC Kirsty White and Rebel Black. Human agronomist Rebel spoke about what leadership means to her and why she thinks, at the end of the day, life is a game to be played.

“…..I think leadership, great leadership requires a high level of personal responsibility, and that’s a very challenging thing to do. It’s much easier for us to blame the outside world for the things that are going on in our lives or in the lives of the people that we care about. True leadership, I believe is a hundred percent self-responsibility, which then enables you to navigate through life in a more easeful way,….”

Third up was Youth Voices Leadership Team chair Emma Ayliffe speaking with Sally Murfett about the power of positive communication in succession planning.

“…. nothing happens without relationship and communication. If you can’t get this part right, nothing else is going to happen along the way. So invest in this process. Invest in yourself so that you can sit at the table and have these conversations that are going to get great outcomes for yourself and great outcomes for the family.”

Then it was time for YFC Hannah Hawker to sit down with Graham Smith, the Australian Rural Leadership Program Mentor, who discussed the importance of throwing out stereotypes and misconceptions.

“….leadership really is a series of processes. It’s not a product or an output or an outcome .. .and if you dig down into that, more often than not, communication will come up as the most important process in leadership.”

YFC Anika Molesworth chatted with Francesca Earp about her research work in Laos and why actively listening to your people it the most important tool to understanding them.

“…..have proper conversations with farmers about why they’re doing things and what’s influencing those decisions … tailor ag extensions to why farmers are making those decisions.”

Internationally acclaimed leadership coach Dave Stachowiak was the guest of YFC Dione Howard for the sixth instalment of the series. Together they spoke about how to build ally relationships between consumers and farmers.

“…..we can come back at look at ourselves and say, “Okay, now that we’ve figured out what’s important, or at least some indicators of what may be important, where do we have some common alignment?” That’s a great starting point then for that relationship.”

Rounding off Series 1 of Leadership is Language was PYiA journalist Mandy McKeesick getting the lowdown on the new conversation app Yacker, developed by YFC Emma Ayliffe.

It’s particularly important to be empathetic in difficult conversations. It’s important to do the work before you go into those conversations, so that you can see things through their eyes and prepare yourself for what the potential reactions could be, and think about the best way to craft the conversation.”

Series 1 has been a remarkable success and we look forward to the next series with a diverse range of guests involved with coaching, communication, stakeholder engagement, collective impact and action, worker health and safety, fishing, water, food recycling and much more.

 

 

Author: Picture You in Agriculture

The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.

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