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Leadership Development

Hortgro grows agri leaders

For any operation, the quality of its management team’s leadership skills is crucial, and there is a direct positive correlation between business performance and effective leadership behaviour.

To assist our member’s leaders to become more self-aware and cultivate their management and leadership skills, Hortgro, with the aid of a grant from AgriSETA, partnered with the Koue Bokkeveld Training Centre (KBOK) and Mazars HR Advisory services, to pilot a two-day leadership development centre for production managers. The centres were facilitated throughout September and November at Saronsberg in Tulbagh and 10 production managers attended each centre.

The management and leadership skills of a farm’s leader play a crucial role in its performance and success. Poor management and leadership limit the business performance of organisations and prevent them from growing, transforming and developing more leaders. Managers often lack the right management and leadership skills to take their organisation and people forward. In this regard, AgriSETA highlighted the role of farm managers as a scarce and critical skill in 2019. The 2019/20 sectoral priority occupations (pivotal) list includes the occupations of agricultural farm managers and horticultural farmers (production supervisor; farm foreman).

So, where does one start in developing leadership capability?

All of us know one or two managers who we regard as exceptional. Their performance can largely be attributed to how they do things (how they resolve problems; how they take initiative and responsibility to ensure tasks are executed; how they motivate their team members; how they go about planning their own work, as well as their team’s work; etc.).  Research has confirmed that the number one reason employees are disengaged and unproductive, is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. Around 75% of workers, who voluntarily leave their job, do so because of their bosses and not the position itself. In the end employee unhappiness and unproductivity is mostly a manager issue.

If you want to be an effective leader, study and learn about your best leadership tool – yourself. Effective leaders build solid foundations for success by focusing on identifying and addressing their own development needs, and then building relationships, and fostering teamwork. This requires self-awareness, which is the single most important factor separating good leaders, from great ones.

What is self-awareness? Self-awareness can be explained as knowing one’s inner self, while also understanding how one’s external self is viewed by others. It reveals one’s strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and which areas of one’s character needs more dedication. Great leaders can leverage their self-awareness and walk the line of trusting and acknowledging their strengths while remaining humble and receptive to their weaknesses.

However, self-awareness eludes most people. It is a hard skill to define and acquire. Many people believe they are self-aware when they are not. In fact, it is often noted by psychologists that those who claim to know themselves the best are often the least self-aware. One’s perception of oneself can also become severely skewed over time. It is rare that we take the time to step back from our thoughts and reflect on the reality of our situations, and how we are creating that reality. Without periodically stopping to look at yourself in the mirror of honest analysis, you can fool yourself into thinking you have all the answers. Always remember that a self-absorbed leader is a danger to his or her organisation.

So how do you develop self-awareness? Self-awareness is an ongoing process. It is not something gained by a once-off personality assessment that neatly places one in a predetermined category. It is a process of reflection that takes place over years. It is a continual checking back in with yourself to see where you are at, how you are perceived by others and what your current strengths and weaknesses are. Feedback, training, and development are key to making changes and stretching yourself.

The purpose of the Hortgro leadership development programme was to provide attendees with feedback regarding the effectiveness of their leadership behaviour in a safe and confidential environment. The outcome of the training provided at the leadership development centres, is individual developmental feedback from a psychologist, to the delegate and his/her manager as well as an individual development plan, indicating strengths and growth areas and development priorities. The aim of the development centres is to assist farm manager and/or owners in better understanding and supporting their production managers, aiding with succession planning, and ensuring that one’s available training budget is spent on the right talent and interventions.

The centres were well received and 100% of the delegates indicated that they would recommend it to their peers. Some of the characteristics of the centre that the delegates found especially valuable, were working together in a group (“you learn from the other person how to approach a situation in a different manner”) and to receive independent feedback (“to receive honest feedback – strengths and growth areas”).


Caption: The delegates who attended the Leadership Development Centre on 25 and 26 September 2019 at Saronsberg in Tulbagh.  Front – Chris Hans (Graaff Fruit), Johan Visser (DuToit Agri), Willa Rossouw (DuToit Agri). Back – Albert Nieuwenhuis (DuToi Agri), Pieter de Wet (DuToit Agri), Justin Baartman (Graaff Fruit), Henk Smit (Middeltuin), Johan N Raal (DuToit Agri), Johan Uithaler (Elandsrivier), Fanie Snyders (Verdun)

  • For more information about leadership development, please contact Astrid Arendse at Hortgro (


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