Art Barter’s book Farmer Able is a story of transformation. It’s the story of a domineering farmer who is fixated on bottom-line results and efficiency. He’s an Industrial Age, command-and-demand manager, constantly basing all of his success on what’s in his bank account. The problem is, the more he pushes those around him, the more they dig in their heels, which is literally the case when it comes to his animals. This state of affairs is the way of Able’s life until one magical day when he hears a voice in the wind that whispers to him, “It’s not all about me.” This is the beginning of a change that leads him to begin considering the needs of others on his farm, which ultimately improves not only morale but also production.
Although I am not a big fan of business fables using barnyard animals, this one, much like Animal House, reveals a profound lesson. In this story, Barter reveals one of the chief dysfunctions in organizations, profits over people, and how striking improvements can be made when leaders instead work to help employees see their real potential and then help them deliver on it.
If you want to be a better leader in a way that creates an ethical, engaging and innovative workplace, this book is a good start. In addition, if, like me, you are tired of “business as usual,” this tale will help you inspire your employees to produce better results and find significance in their careers.
To help you on this journey even further and as an adjunct to Farmer Able, Barter has also published The Servant Leadership Journal where he teaches nine behaviors necessary for becoming a servant leader. Through journaling, Barter shows you how these behaviors can change your thinking about leadership both in your personal and professional life. In this book, you are shown four distinct steps to effective journaling: 1) Educate yourself by defining each behavior, 2) Understand where you sit with each behavior, 3) Be Courageous by being honest with yourself, and 4) Apply what you learn in your everyday life.
With both of these texts, you will learn a better leadership philosophy, learn about yourself, and make changes to become a leader people want to follow.