The ability to make strategic adjustments with a cool head through adverse conditions is rare.

From the September 2016 issue of Drovers.

A subject rarely addressed in our industry is the need for young talent in leadership roles. Managers with the advanced skill set to operate with the tactical efficiency and tough-mindedness of Patton and Rommel are highly coveted. Field generals who understand the life cycles of million dollar businesses and how to operate them with coordinated efficiency need only apply.

Leadership is of the utmost importance to the long-term health of our industry. This need cuts across all segments of beef agriculture. From cow-calf and feedlot managers to sales and marketing professionals to boxed beef and food service specialists, every position along the vertical and horizontal chains need young developmental talent.

Make no mistake, “you can’t be any geek off the street.” This famous line in the classic Western movie, “Young Guns,” eloquently defines the reality for those seeking CEO level jobs. Our billion dollar global industry is in search of exceptional talents and a special blend of skills. Their target lies well beyond journeyman-level mastery of budgets, spreadsheets, profit and loss, inventory analytics and cash flow. Skills such as innovation, adaptability and strategic thinking are a few of these leadership qualities I have highlighted in the past few months. However, it goes even deeper than those.

To be a beef industry CEO candidate, you first have to embrace your role. Don’t be the administrator that wants to be everyone’s friend. When you are in command, command! To achieve success in a leadership position, you have to come to terms with the all the responsibilities that accompany your title no matter how undesirable they might be. A CEO must be prepared to make unpopular decisions that will result in a sustainable future for a company or business. An inability to make tough decisions, seek conflict resolution through effective communication and accurately evaluate personnel, as well as yourself, will cripple your ability to function. This is a difficult skill to master due to the complexities of interpersonal relationships.

Mental toughness is an absolute must. The ability to make strategic adjustments with a cool head through adverse conditions is rare. Good leaders learn to accept failure and view it as a tool for improvement. Adversity can be your most valued teacher. When I need a boost, I think of Walter “Sweetness” Payton: “Never die easy.”

Lastly, a good CEO candidate must be able to construct the ideal team with the most talented professionals available. Don’t make the mistake of organizing a staff of marginally talented “goodfellas.” Assemble a team that has a symbiotic cohesiveness to deliver substantive results while they’re on the clock. The “happy hour” staff always leads to failure.

If you think you have what it takes to be a trailblazer in the beef industry, there will be many opportunities as the generation turnover forges ahead. Though these are certainly not the only skills necessary to manage a major cattle feeding company, livestock marketing institution, branded beef program, animal health sales team or global trade company, but they are some of the most important. Mastery of these skills is essential to your candidature.

Jared Wareham specializes in brand development, marketing, customer service, beef genetics and education. In addition to writing and public speaking, he manages one of the largest commercial seedstock businesses in the Midwest. You can contact him at