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Systems Thinking Part 1: Enhancing Your Management Skills

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“Get better before you get bigger.” When I shared this crucial advice in a previous blog following my transition into the role of CEO at Family Farms, LLC, I did not expect the strong positive response that has come from various sources. Along with that support comes the most frequently asked questions: How do I do that? How do I “get better”? Where do I start? What should I be doing today?

Key Management Skills

To put it simply, making your business better requires applying good management skills. Through this series of blogs, I’ll share some basics concerning the skillset needed in your quest to improve your business. We will be looking at these skillsets and how you can apply each in your quest to “get better”:

  • Leadership
  • People
  • Systems Thinking
  • Data/Controls
  • Business Analysis
  • Business Planning

As with any knowledge and skills, simply learning about them is NOT enough. It’s easy to attend a workshop or conference, get some new ideas, leave all fired up, go home and become immersed in the everyday running of the business, and then forget all your good intentions for changes you wanted to make in the way you manage. Simply stated, to be of benefit, you must IMPLEMENT those ideas and skills.


So, with that said, let’s jump right into our first skillset – leadership. Whether your business involves just your family members or you have dozens of hired workers, your leadership skills are key to success. As leader, your positive attitude and unswerving dedication to hard work, honesty and ethical behavior, teamwork, punctuality and achievement of goals will spread among others on your team.

Goal Setting

An important task as leader in your business is establishing priorities and then goal-setting. Don’t worry – this is not to be done by you alone. Instead, a good leader involves the entire team in the goal-setting process so that there is shared ownership and enhanced drive to see the goals accomplished. As leader, though, you will set the direction and pace. You will also be responsible for follow-up, ensuring accountability among all members of the team as you work together to reach your goals.

Action Planning

In times of crisis, members of your team will look to you for proper responses. You should have an emergency action plan prepared, including the name of your spokesperson; keep calm and respond with clear directions to your team for handling the emergency.


We can’t end this discussion without mentioning a key component of leadership: effective communication. Effective communication is clear, concise, correct, complete, courteous and constructive. Remember, your communication can be verbal, written, non-verbal (body language, facial expressions, etc.) and the often-overlooked skill of listening. It’s not just what you say but how you say it, how you sound, and how you appear. Your success in leading can be greatly enhanced by clear and effective communication skills – displayed in your dealings with family members, workers, lenders, vendors, customers, landowners and others.

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