Leadership on the Good Earth – Nu Leadership Series

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
John F. Kennedy

Don’t you hate it when people talk about the “good old” days? Everything was perfect, and there were no problems. I’m not taking you on that path, but organizations can learn from the past. Life hasn’t always been hectic for people. Life was once very simple. Let’s explore how this experience can help our contemporary organizations. Leaders must return to agrarian values to maximize success. First, technology doesn’t automatically improve society. In over 50 years, America has gone from rural to city and from national to international market. Critchfield, author of Trees, Why Do You Wait, argues that these advancements have weakened our core values such as family tradition and work ethic. Secondly, the disintegration of the agrarian code has destroyed our moral stability. Davidson, author of Broken Heartlands, suggests that technology and the economic prestige of the agricultural system brought a host of social ills such as poverty, depopulation, and soil erosion.

Conversely, organizational leaders can use our agrarian heritage as a competitive advantage. Mayo postulated that this could happen in a modern society if society rebuilds social solidarity and promotes small working groups; he argued that a society vastly removed from nature would lose sight of its meaning. Critchfield advocates using an agrarian model as the ideal cultural blueprint. Why? Agrarian values promote teamwork while maintaining individual independence.

Finally, I would suggest that the farther humanity moves away from its agrarian calling (viz., information-gathering, technology-focused), the harder it will be to lead our “Emergent Workforce.” Undeveloped countries are embracing Western technologies while abandoning the land. Leader, you don’t need to till the land to gain credibility, but it helps when you don’t treat your followers like dirt, either. Celebrate the simple things in life like the agrarians. Start today!

Critchfield, R. (1991). Trees, Why Do You Wait. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

Davidson, O. (1990). Broken Heartland: The Rise of America’s Rural Ghetto. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Wren, D. (2005). The Evolution of Management Thought. Hooboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green