A pat on the back to hort’s leaders | OPINION

A pat on the back to horticulture's leaders | OPINION


OPINION: When it comes to leadership, horticulture is pretty well placed. At least, no one has used any one-way mirrors as yet.



NOT everyone will rise to have a view from the top.

Some will aspire to lead and work toward it, while others will naturally fit into a prominent role because of their experience, thinking style and vision.

Leadership can be a thankless task, sometimes a poisoned chalice but vitally necessary in modern agriculture.

In this writer's opinion, horticulture currently has some stellar performers guiding the industry.

The standard of horticulture leadership came to mind as  things heated up in the wool industry with the current goings-on regarding one-way mirrors and expletive leader outbursts likely to damage the industry's image.

For the time being, there is nothing to this degree happening in horticulture.

Make no mistake – there are opposing opinions on levy structures, funding directions and collaborative groups but they are kept well within the best interests of the industry overall.

In order to be a great leader, one must first learn to serve.

Perhaps this is one area where horticulture's diversity is a positive. There are so many horticulture product groups that there is something of a balancing out of egos and a greater necessity for collaboration.

The horticulture industry isn't perfect – there have been some in the past akin to dictators and, at the other extreme, limp fish, who made no impact for their sector.

But if you step back and take a look at some of the chairs, CEOs and spokespeople for horticulture groups at the moment, there is a considerable depth of skill, knowledge and class.

It wouldn't be right to single people out, lest someone be missed. 

The heads of the various groups are the ones the media go to for comment, they are the ones the politicians expect to hear from and they are probably the ones to juggle the many balls of pulling together an annual conference, convention, forum, symposium, workshop or field walk.

And there's a good chance they'll be running a farm at the same time.

In his speech at the National Olive Conference at Adelaide earlier this month, Olives Australia CEO Greg Seymour, a man with plenty of leadership experience, made the pertinent point in being the voice for a sector.

"A politician is the worst job you'd ever want to be and advocate is the second-worst job," he said.

In order to be a great leader, one must first learn to serve.

That's a Biblical concept that's been played out in countless movies and books over the years with good reason – a good leader is a servant.​ 

It's worth keeping all this in mind before pointing a finger of blame when a decision doesn't go the industry's way or an opportunity appears to be missed.

She or he is there for her or his members, be it on the end of the phone at all hours, facilitating the shed meeting or grinding out a column for the monthly newsletter.

Sure, they have to be accountable but it could be argued they are under more public pressure and spotlights than the average grower toiling away, growing a crop to pay the levy.

It might be time to appreciate the leaders within horticulture because from this side of the one-way mirror, it seems we've got a good bunch.


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