Now is the time to increase investment in leadership development

SAOS, NFU Scotland and NFU Mutual have come together once again to offer an opportunity for agri businesses of all sizes to place greater emphasis on investing in leadership skills development.

Published: 03/07/2023

SAOS, NFU Scotland and NFU Mutual have come together once again to offer an opportunity for agri businesses of all sizes to place greater emphasis on investing in leadership skills development. Scottish agriculture has always faced challenge and uncertainty with boldness and innovation, but current times can best be managed by adding investment in people, their adaptability, and their strategic thinking to the sector’s ‘toolkit’.

The hugely successful SAOS Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders (GTL) programme, supported by NFUS and NFUM and delivered by The Leadership Factory, has been developed at a time when the agricultural industry is becoming more and more cognisant of the need to invest in its people as well as in its processes and technology - but there is still huge scope for senior leaders, high potential managers and ambitious frontline employees to engage proactively with sector specific leadership development.

Following its inaugural programme in 2022/23, GTL secured feedback whereby one hundred per cent of participants said they would recommend participation to others, a clear demonstration of the need for such training and the desire of those in the industry to take it forward. Applications for the 2023/24 programme are currently open, closing at the end of the month.

Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders is a broad ranging programme, mixing in-person learning with online workshops, equipping participants with the skills and tools to develop themselves and the businesses they work in.

The programme is designed for those with drive and ambition, not only those with a role that already involves leadership, who are keen to ensure that they grow into their full potential. In addition, the programme offers a strong and mutually supportive network, keys to a positive mindset, and an approach which encourages innovative and strategic thought.

For 2023, course leaders are particularly keen to highlight how the programme can work in harmony with, among others, the already well-known Rural Leadership Programme.  Several participants in the first GTL programme had completed the RLP in the past and viewed them as being mutually beneficial.

Participants in the first GTL programme included those working in large organisations, SMEs and the self-employed.  Jilly Duncan-Grant, one of the participants in the programme, said:

“I have benefited a huge amount from Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders, from the learnings on leadership style, managing change, embracing innovation and more and from meeting others on the course. We formed strong relationships and shared our experiences and I’m enormously grateful to have had the opportunity to take part.

“In short, Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders has enhanced my capabilities and allowed me to continue with all that I do in the most effective way possible.”

Tim Bailey, SAOS Chief Executive, commented: “Earlier in the summer we celebrated the achievements of our first set of graduates and heard their outstanding feedback, and we now look forward to equipping the next group of Scotland’s most proactive future leaders for the challenges that our industry faces.

“The agricultural sector, just like any other, evolves in response to a range of both internal and external factors, both big and small. In the last ten years, but particularly more recently, I would say that the mindset of those working in the sector has moved more towards a greater appreciation of leadership and how strong skills can drive not just individual careers, but the whole industry, forward.  Together with the Rural Leadership Programme, the Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders programme provides a proven leadership journey for anyone with ambition.

“I therefore encourage those interested in applying to visit our website and read the case studies or listen to the podcast about the programme to learn more about how taking part could benefit them and the agricultural sector.”

Those interested in applying for the autumn 2023 programme can visit the SAOS website to learn more and register their interest:

The deadline for applications is the end of July.

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