Owners and managers of small meat plants have a significant impact on the success of the business with which they are involved. During good times, they can help their company grow and prosper and achieve long term success. During a difficult time, as we have had the last few months due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), they can have a significant impact on how their company deals with and survives the crisis. Good company leaders have certain characteristics in common.

Commitment to Excellence: A good leader is committed to excellence. A good leader not only keeps their main goals in focus but is also able to break them down into manageable steps in order to make progress toward those goals.

Genuine Integrity: A good leader has unquestionable integrity and always exhibits it. They do not expect more of employees than they do of themselves. They acknowledge mistakes and give credit for achievements. A lack of integrity in a leader can lead to a loss of trust, which can be very difficult to recover.

Sincere Enthusiasm: Sincere enthusiasm for the goods and services a company provides cannot be faked. Employees can easily recognize an insincere leader, and that trait is often contagious. Enthusiastic leaders motivate their employees and can identify critical issues.

Confidence: In order to lead and set direction a leader needs to appear confident as a person in their leadership role. A confident leader inspires confidence in others and tends to draw out the best efforts of a team. However, overconfidence is often regarded as arrogance and can have a very negative effect. Genuine confidence is contagious and inspires others with a similar level of optimism.

Decisiveness: Good leaders are willing to take the risk of making decisions realizing they will be accountable if they fail. When making decisions they keep the main goals in focus. They not only view the situation but break the situation into subparts for closer inspection. A good leader can break a big issue into smaller parts and make progress toward the larger goal.

Good Communication Skills: A good leader has good communication skills, both oral and written. Your employees should feel comfortable discussing concerns and issues with you. Much of your communication with your employees relative to job expectations will be via written documents such as GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices), SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and SSOPs (Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures). These documents should be written in a format that your employees can understand. You should also ask for and take input from employees. When leaders listen, employees tend to take ownership in procedures and policies, which is strongly correlated with organizational success.

Be a Delegator: A leader who tries to do everything themselves often struggles to get things accomplished. When you delegate tasks to employees, hold them accountable for carrying out the assigned task.

Show Compassion: A good leader positions people for both personal and organizational success. Publicly criticizing employees can demoralize a company. A good rule of thumb is that criticism of others should be private and verbal while praise should be public and visual.

Small meat plants are an important part of the economy of communities across the United States. They provide services for livestock producers and meat products for retail and wholesale customers. Remember:  A good leader is critical to the success of a business.  IP