Leadership: A ‘Long-Range Perpesctive’

Carroll Smith, Editor

Carroll Smith, Editor

Warren G. Bennis says, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality” and describes a leader as having a “long-range perspective.”

Bennis is known as an American scholar, organizational consultant, an author and an expert in the field of leadership studies. He has been an advisor to several United States presidents, including John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and served as a consultant for numerous Fortune 500 companies. In one of his bestselling books On Becoming a Leader, published in 1989, Bennis says a leader must be “a combination of experience, self-knowledge and personal ethics.”

Of course, Bennis is not the only person or group of people to recognize the importance of promoting leadership. In the agriculture industry, for example, there are many successful leadership programs that groom upcoming leaders to learn how to “translate vision into reality” and develop a “long-range perspective.”

The Rice Leadership Development Program is considered by many to be the “gold standard” in developing leaders within the rice industry.

According to the USA Rice Federation, “The Rice Leadership Development Program gives future leaders a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills. The class attends four one-week sessions over a two-year period that encompasses studies of all aspects of the rice industry through firsthand observations. They also attend seminars and workshops designed to strengthen leadership skills. A special committee of rice industry and agribusiness leaders evaluate applications, letters of recommendation, as well as conduct personal interviews to determine the five rice producers and two individuals from rice-industry related professions who will make up the Rice Leadership Development Class.”

The program is funded by grants from John Deere, RiceTec and American Commodity Company to the Rice Foundation. USA Rice develops and manages the program. During the Awards Luncheon at the 2013 USA Rice Outlook Conference, Marvin Cochran, chairman of the Rice Foundation, said, “The caliber of applicants made choosing this year’s class especially difficult, and that’s a problem the rice industry likes to have.” Cochran also encouraged those who were not selected for the 2014 class to re-apply to the program this year. Cochran, himself, is an alumni of this prestigious program, which is managed by the ever-popular Chuck Wilson, who is affiliated with the USA Rice Federation.

To learn more about applying to the program, please visit www.usarice.com and click on Leadership Program Information. I personally encourage anyone who is interested in keeping our industry vibrant and viable to make a commitment to become a leader in rice.