Harvest 2018 is finally underway.

My bother and father-in-law have a new piece of equipment this year,  a grain cart. This equipment increases efficiency by ensuring the combines never stop, except for supper in the field.

I am a rookie at running a grain cart, which makes me a little nervous. Running a grain cart requires a set of skills – no different than running a team. Leadership requires a set of skills.

Learning a new skill is challenging even in the best of times. This is not the best of times. Harvest 2018 is getting a very late start and the stakes are high – no room for error.

If you are new to a leadership role here are a few ideas from my grain cart experience:

Find out what is critical

My brother in law went over the procedures for running the equipment with me. Above all else, he stressed, the auger must be running if the grain chute is open – don’t shut the auger off before closing the chute or you will plug it solid and it won’t be fun.

What is most important in your role? Are there key documents that need to be handled? Key procedures to pay attention to?

Above all else make sure that ….

Stay calm

Taking on a new role can be anxiety provoking. But, the anxiety itself exacerbates a lack of skill. Case in point:

I got dangerously close to the semi while unloading.  I very anxiously wiggled my way out of the situation and nearly hit the truck with the extended auger. Had I stopped for a minute to think … I would have realized that there was a very easy solution to the problem. Get out of the grain cart and drive the semi straight forward. While I am still learning to maneuver a grain cart I am pretty good at driving a semi straight forward.

If you find yourself in a jam – what skills do you already have that you can lean on?

Reflect on your performance

What is going well? What is not going well? Where can you improve? What have you learned?

Even if you metaphorically stop the auger before closing the grain chute, you will have gained experience. There will be pitfalls you didn’t even know existed.

If you are new to a leadership position and are stressed about screwing up – just remember – you can’t wreck anything if you are laying on a couch!

Happy Leading – Happy Harvest