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LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT IN plan its future, we often forget to equate

THE AGRIBUSINESS INDUSTRY "business management" with the "leadership


function" required of all social organizations.
One would normally expect that any We must be reminded of the fact that all
institution-bound academician would spend organizations, social and business, are
much of his/her time in the simple act of destined to failure in the absence of some
reading. Unfortunately, this is one of many form of leadership. Someone must be in
misconceptions which characterize the life of charge. In its most vestigial form, this is even
an academician. Not unlike agribusiness true in its natural form for the birds and the
managers, academicians find that the normal bees, the former with their pecking order, and
"press of business" requires a vast diversity the latter with their queens.
of actions, most of which prevent the
individual from becoming deeply involved in In the matter of human affairs, even those
the pursuit of leisurely reading. Unlike who would reject all forms of traditional
managers, however, academicians are leadership, find an undeniable need for
occasionally afforded a brief respite from their leaders, themselves. I recently had an
routine press of business to read and pursue opportunity to debate with a Libertarian Party
thoughts or ideas which would otherwise be member of the Alaska state legislature. His
judged inconsequential to their employer's views were just short of those advocating
day-to-day operational tasks. As I pursue, complete anarchy in the affairs of state. Yet,
and enjoy, just such a respite, I elect to read, ironically, it was this same party whose
and do so rather extensively. Not all my continued political influence was almost
reading is focused on a specific subject, but totally dependent upon a finely-tuned and
much is directed towards my personal well-disciplined party leadership structure.
interests in the practice of business
management. Acknowledging that The desire to equate leadership with
agribusiness managers are rarely afforded management is an unavoidable one. Like
even a brief respite from their daily tasks, I cream, it would seem, leaders naturally rise
would like to share with you a condensation to the surface where they fulfill managerial
of observations expropriated from my current roles. Why is it then that managers, unlike
practice of leisurely reading. cream, do not always represent the best part
of the whole? To answer this question, we
Business As A Social Organization must recognize that the wizardry of popular
leadership has, historically, contributed as
As a confirmed pragmatist, it is often difficult much to evil as to good. Adolph Hitler, for
for me to abstract from the functional example, proved to be a charismatic leader of
character of an agribusiness firm and, some renown, whose ability to stimulate a
instead, view it as a social organization. To mass following for his own twisted visions
be sure, all businesses and the managerial surely propagated human suffering. In this
control thereof, involve people. The very noticeable case, when did leadership end
essence of any successful business rests on and demagoguery begin? In a recent book
human interaction. But in our haste to titled Leadership, James MacGregor Burns
analytically assess a business, to financially wrote, "A leader and a tyrant are polar
control its operations, and to quantitatively

WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY & U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE COOPERATING


opposites." Quite clearly, Burns would themselves in offices, shop floors, and
distinguish between those who would lead boardrooms, they are no less vulnerable to
and those who would abuse their position of overthrow than were their third century
influence. counterparts. Such managers may be
mistaken for leaders, which they even believe
Insofar as we likely have no would-be Hitler's themselves to be. But clearly they are not as
in the agribusiness industry, where does this they force persons to follow rather than
analogy leave us? Perhaps managerial serving the needs of the organization or the
theory, as practiced within a democracy, can persons it serves.
provide the answer. Our democratic system,
of course, is designed to guard against The noted psychologist, Harry Levinson, once
excessive power and its attendant corruption. wrote that, "Leaders are essentially politicians
The democratic system recognizes that and must deal with political forces." The
ambition always has been and always will be reference here to "politics" was in the generic
a vital force in human affairs. Therefore, it sense and suggests that managers/leaders,
seeks to control or retain this force to the best who apart from having to gain and hold a
interests of the people. Herein lies the constituency, must practice the political arts
managerial analogy. After all, in its most of mediation and conciliation. They are
idealistic form, our private enterprise subject to varied pressures from above,
economy, with its inherent system of rewards below, and sometimes at the same level of
for performance and risk-taking, strives to the organization. There is no doubt about it,
pool the end-products of human ambition, managers must possess the political acumen
such that everyone will share in the benefits to both withstand and smooth out such
of that pool. The tyrant's ambition is for pressures. In this regard, even the CEO,
himself, alone. Other people are merely tools himself, is subject to such pressures, be they
to be used in his search of the desired end. In evolving from the disparate interests of
contrast, the leader and the manager are directors, employees, consumers,
ambitious not only for themselves, but also governments or the general public. Middle
for the betterment of those with whom they level managers, who sometimes feel like the
work and serve. Consistent with the humanist ham in a sandwich, also must learn to cope
philosophy of management, it is the mere with demands from above for enhanced
presence of a following that compels leaders production, along with screams from below as
to act responsibly. They occupy their union employees insist on a strict adherence
leadership positions only by the consent of to established work rules. Indeed if politics is,
others. In the world of business, it is this as it is often claimed to be, the art of the
responsibility which provides the link between possible, then it is never more so than in the
management and leadership. A politician is management of a business entity.
responsible to his/her electorate, a military
officer always reports to a civil authority, and When Is Management Unlike Leadership?
a business manager is responsible to the
This question was asked some months ago
shareholders of the company.
during a week-long agribusiness
management training program. A team of five
In the third century B.C., Aristotle wrote that a
participants were asked to meet together as a
tyrannical leader is one who . . . ."suppresses
team and produce a reasonable answer. It
every superiority, does away with good men,
was expected that their answer would be
forbids education and light, controls the
lengthy and rather complex. In fact, they
movements of the citizens, and, keeping
returned the following morning with a brief,
them in perpetual servitude, wants them to
but rather profound response. In their view,
grow accustomed to baseness and cowardice
management required the organization of
. . . ." Quite clearly, if modern-day managerial
things, while leadership required the
tyrants elect to carve out places for

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organization of people. In a book titled The of the executives observed, it would seem as
Unconscious Conspiracy, author Warren if you are running as fast as you can only to
Bennis wrote in 1976, "leading does not stay where you are. Under such conditions,
mean managing." Clearly, our team of how can anyone find the time and initiative to
management trainees and Mr. Bennis were function as a leader? This question also
hinting at a similar distinction. It would seem arose in the course of the aforementioned
that a manager who lacks the leadership management training program.
quality would function mostly in accordance
with previously established routines. Of Perhaps the answer lies in the manager's
course such routines require little thought and willingness and ability to ask himself if the
even less imagination. They may, in fact, be use of routine has provided a subconscious
inappropriate routines or they may be excuse for avoiding the more difficult and
functionally obsolete. Yet managers lacking demanding tasks. Only yesterday I found
leadership skills will focus on things rather myself in the act of committing this
than people and cling to routine procedures transgression. I approached my department
as a defensive means for preventing needed chairman with the argument that my service
changes. A reliance on routines may not even on a multiplicity of university committees
be a conscious effort as we are all creatures (routinely expected of all academicians) had
of habit. Each of us seeks and sustains a prevented me from finding the free time
sense of security through an adherence to needed to complete a project. Who was I
established routines. When such an kidding? My administrator knew as well as did
adherence is allowed to supersede a concern I that free time is made not found. The
for people and the collective well-being of a argument that I could not find the required
business, then management ceases to be an free time was but a poor excuse for the fact
analogue to leadership. that I had subconsciously sought not to take
the time.
Even those agribusiness managers who
actively pursue a leadership role, find Avoidance Of The Routine
themselves inadvertently submerged in
It has been argued that management and
protectionist attempts to preserve the status
leadership are not alike when adherence to
quo. A noted management scientist named
routine becomes an operational mandate.
Henry Mintzberg once conducted an in-depth
How then can managers free themselves of
analysis of the working patterns of five top
this adherence? First, I would propose the
corporate executives. Mintzberg concluded
employment of specialists to perform those
that only rarely did these talented individuals
tasks which managers once felt obligated to
have time to think about anything except the
perform. Agribusiness managers, in
particular issue immediately before them.
particular, are often internally trained in the
Nearly half of the decisions made were
sense that they are promoted from within the
rendered within a time period of ten minutes
organization. As these individuals rise
or less. In only ten percent of the cases did
through the ranks, they are reluctant to
these individuals have over one hour to
relinquish all those tasks previously
ponder and evaluate a specific matter.
performed. By the time they reach the top of
the organizational structure, either by habit or
In reality, the executive suite was but a frenzy
personal preference, the manager finds that
of activity as a steady stream of
he continues to do several things which could
correspondence and visits filled the entire
be better performed by specialists or others
working day. Under even the best of
of lesser rank. Routines acquired over a
intentions to the contrary, these persons were
lifetime of service in lesser positions are most
forced to rely heavily on routines as the sole
difficult to break when one reaches a
means for dealing with the press of business.
managerial position.
If your daily work pattern is anything like that

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Second, managers should create an Management, Leadership, And Sensitivity
environment wherein alternative courses of
In 1958, Robert Tannenbaum and Warren H.
action are openly solicited and considered.
Schmidt published a paper in the Harvard
As this solicitation practice becomes more
Business Review titled "How to Choose a
widely known amongst subordinates, it will
Leadership Pattern." In this paper, the
eventually supplant any sense that decisions
authors described a so-called "dominance
are routine or in any way preordained by past
scale" from which evolved alternative
practices. For example, it had become a
managerial styles. The management
well-established practice for a fruit
profession later accepted this dominance
cooperative to pay out a prescribed
scale base for the classification of managerial
percentage of pool proceeds prior to the time
styles which varied from Autocrat to
of final pool closure. Any consideration of a
Humanist. By 1973, however, these same
differing procedure or an adjusted percentage
authors felt compelled to produce a sequel to
payout was prevented by the routine practice.
their earlier thoughts. This sequel was
A newly installed manager questioned this
prepared on the basis of perceived changes
practice, solicited alternative suggestions,
in social patterns that had taken place since
and eventually implemented a new program
1958. The fifteen years that had passed since
for payment that was more equitable and
their earlier literary work had witnessed the
appealing to the firm and member-fruit
rapid rise of concerns for civil rights, ecology,
growers, alike. In this case, management and
consumer protection and the quality of life in
leadership were synonymous.
the workplace. In their opinion, such societal
changes had placed upon managers a
A third means for avoiding the rigidities of
burden which previously had hardly existed,
routine is to encourage the practice of
i.e., the heightened need for a sense of
delegation. To be sure, delegation often
human sensitivity and flexibility in
requires some forbearance on the part of the
management.
manager as tasks assigned to others may be
accomplished with less than the desired level
What this suggests is that as a
of efficiency or proficiency. Yet it is foolish to
manager/leader in contemporary times, you
presume that efficiency or proficiency are
are more likely to deal with employers with a
more important than satisfactory performance
higher self-image of their role in the business.
when those completing the task are learning
They are less willing to accept their position
from the experience. Delegation provides an
as a subordinate, more willing to question any
important vehicle for the training of new
source of authority, and more demanding of a
leaders in your organization. Some managers
position of influence in the business. In fact, a
fail to acknowledge the importance of
new breed of workers emerged from the
developing a continuity of leadership skills
1970's period of social turmoil. While tempers
within their organizations. The new
have cooled somewhat and younger people
generation of agribusiness personnel are
have returned to more pragmatic interests,
better educated, more assertive, and more
the modern day managers must recognize
skeptical than their predecessors. As routine
that now, more than ever before, leadership
procedures are replaced with the process of
becomes a matter of eliciting support and
guided experimentation on the parts of these
cooperation from employees rather than
younger people, their sense of value to the
commanding obedience. Recent studies
company is acknowledged and management,
show that employees are more concerned
thereby, creates the time and the opportunity
with a sense of personal autonomy,
to exert true leadership qualities.
appreciation of their efforts, and an expanded
opportunity to fulfill their individual potentials.
If the manager fails to capitalize on the
energies supporting these employee goals,

4
those same energies are sure to become the Managers Are Leaders When:
business's loss. Management scholar
In conclusion, a rather simple rule emerges,
Douglas McGregor argues that, "the essential
i.e., the respectful treatment of others is likely
task of management is to arrange
to be reciprocated. And it is this reciprocation
organizational conditions and methods of
that transforms a manager into a leader.
operation so that employees can achieve
Lao-Tsi was a Chinese poet and philosopher
their own goals best by directing their own
who lived 2,500 years ago. He likely
efforts towards those objectives set by the
possessed little experience as a manager, yet
organization." The managers of the "old
his words of advice are still timely and
school" might argue that such a permissive
relevant. He wrote, "Fail to honor people, and
environment will only result in diminished
they will fail to honor you; but of a good
productivity. But allowing for the fact that all
leader, who talks little, when his work is done,
managers must, at times, play a dictatorial
his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did this
role, it would seem that employees would
ourselves."
respond more positively to such moments of
toughness, if it is encompassed within a past
Sincerely,
record of individual respect, consideration,
and fair play.

Ken D. Duft
Extension Economist