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The Recipe for Leadership in Agriculture

Posted on February 2, 2015 at 12:12 PM by Iowa Corn

Who doesn't love a good batch of cookies? Making the perfect cookie requires a combination of different ingredients; much like composing an effective team requires individuals from a variety of disciplines. I-LEAD Class 7 is a great example of this, as an interdisciplinary team comprised of young leaders from all different facets of the agriculture industry.

I-LEAD Members (L-R): Brandon Maier,
Jason Schwenneker, Laura Holoubek, and Matthew Eddy
Whether mixing up a batch of cookies or working in a team, it is important for all ingredients (or people) to be in the mix, as each plays an integral role in the success of the final product. Teams can create a challenging work environment, like an oven, but can produce results of great creativity, innovation, and satisfaction.  Challenges can be prevented by following a process similar to a recipe card; mixing ingredients in a certain order matters. Teams also have differences, but this adds flavor, just like chocolate chips in batter. Additionally, as unfortunate as it is, every once in a while a pan of cookies is going to burn. With teams, conflict is almost always inevitable.

Cookies can be made a number of ways, but how does one make the perfectbatch? It starts with a solid base, for cookies that is flour but for team success that is communications. It provides a means for conversation, collaboration, and like when adding the egg, an opportunity for connections to be made that holds the group together. A good cookie also needs the perfect balance of both sugar and salt; it is similarly important to utilize communications skills in balance. Being able to convey thoughts, but also listen to what others say, is critical for team success. All of these ingredients may taste great but they rely on baking soda to uphold the cookie’s light and fluffy structure. Just as in a team, members must have the trust and support of one another to be effective in achieving their goals.

Interdisciplinary teams are found everywhere, and I-LEAD Class 7 is just one of many. For many, these teams can be found within homes, businesses, and organizations. I encourage you to try making a perfect batch of cookies with your organizations or business, but remember without the appropriate combination of ingredients the recipe for success can get messy quickly.


My name is Marcie Stevenson, member of I-LEAD Class 7 and author of this post. I'm originally from Wheatland, IA, where my family owns and operates a diversified row crop and livestock farm. I recently graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business, Economics, and International Agriculture. I've since returned to ISU to pursue a master’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Agricultural Economics. I also currently serve as a research assistant within the Department of Economics working to identify what causes entrepreneurship within the agricultural industry in Iowa and how that compares to other industries. When not in class or working on research, I enjoy running, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

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