Few farmers and ranchers may consider themselves executives, but that may be just what it takes to be successful. Many top producers focus on controlling costs, keeping good records and implementing a sound marketing program, but a farm executive goes beyond that. See if you possess any traits that an executive does.

* An executive displays four patterns. They adapt to the changing needs of their markets, they are open to explore new ideas, they operate as resource managers-not producers, and they realize the importance of networking and developing alliances across the value chain.

* They are strategic thinkers. They envision a goal and figure out the skills and resources needed to get there.

* They possess the ability to assess strengths and weaknesses in people. This includes themselves. They know the weaknesses need to be compensated for and they do so by seeking outside expertise or hiring employees with the skills they lack.

* Executives operate in a continuous improvement mode. No matter how well they are doing they always believe there's a better way. They are able to envision the whole picture of how things fit together across the food chain.

* Take risks. They are excellent risk managers, have made their share of mistakes but do their homework. They consider options and develop a strategy before undertaking a new venture and always have an exit plan.

* Realize change is the window of opportunity. They do not view themselves as victims, but learn from their experiences, make adjustments and move on.

* Executives lead people rather than drive. They see themselves as head coaches, not as a boss. They balance management between key performance areas of production, finance, personnel and marketing.

* Work hard at communication. They make sure their team, even if it's only family members, have a shared vision of the goal. And they recognize that the person doing a specific job may have the best ideas related to that area.