Life,  Venise's Blog,  Work

Corporate Herdsmanship

Farmer Ross fixing fence to make sure his herd is well protected.
Farmer Ross fixing fence to make sure his herd is well protected.

When it comes to my food, I like to keep things separate. If it was socially acceptable I would probably still use one of those kid plates with dividers so all the food stays neat in it’s place. But, when it comes to my life, I prefer to mix it up. In practice this means I check and respond to work emails in the middle of doing farm chores. I blog during my commute to work. I think about my daughter in the middle of work meetings. It means that whether I am at work, at home or in the barn, I am not 100% fully there, part of me is somewhere else thinking about the rest of my life.

For a while I tried to fight this, subscribing to the thought that work and personal life should be kept separate. That it is only fair for me to be 100% invested in whatever role I am filling at that moment. And for some, it is a way to find balance. To turn off all other distractions and just focus on the task at hand. But for me, I have learned that it is impossible and that I am actually a better, more whole and productive person when I can move fluidly through my different roles. I am also starting to realize that it is my life experiences that shape who I have become and who I will become in the future. I am starting to appreciate a wider viewed lense of myself, to embrace the different roles I play and appreciate how those roles intersect to make me a better person.

For example, in my previous post Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s Of to Work I Go I spoke about how I felt my experience returning to work as a new mom gave me an advantage in my career. That one experience gave me insight into a hot button topic in my industry and encouraged me to advocate for the other working moms at my company. Had I tried harder to just leave my mom hat at the door when I went to work that first week, I would have missed a great opportunity. Instead, I embraced the experience and made an effort to learn something which ended up helping me get noticed in a corporation full of people with great ideas and gave me an opportunity to work on something I am passionate about.

In addition to being a mom, I am also a farmer. I am now starting to realize just how important that role is to the rest of my life. Through caring for my animals and tending to my garden I am learning lessons and skills that help me in my other walks of life. As a HR professional I spend a lot of my days talking about how my team can develop the leaders in our company. We discuss how vital effective leadership is to our bottom line and  how healthy and productive teams  lead to increased profits. While my team is using case studies and comparative analysis to bring home their point, I can’t help but use farm examples to try to show how the key concepts of building trust in a group of people is actually quite similar to that of a herd of animals and that building trust is one of the first and most important steps in leading a team.

At the core, building trust is about knowing on a personal level each person in your team, caring about the health of your team, showing your team that you are dependable and have their interests at heart and protecting your team when threatened. These are all things the farmer works tirelessly to achieve. The health and productivity of a farmer’s herd effects their profits and is how they make their living.  While teams of humans are obviously far more complex than herds of animals, I believe the core concepts are the same.

And so, as a little side project I am starting a blog series I will title Corporate Herdsmanship that will weave the lessons I have learned in the office with those that I have learned on the farm.  I hope that the series will be an inspiration to our readers and will showcase the work ethic that I believe every true leader must have in order to earn their team’s trust.  One day I would love to write a book on the subject with stunning photos of farmers and ranchers working with their herds, but for now, I am going to get my thoughts down in my blog. I hope you will follow along and enjoy!

The "garden" behind the garden to glass cocktails, Venise is the resident farmer of the Simple Goodness Farm, older sister and goat lover.

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