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Master of Agribusiness

FCV T.O.T.A.L: An Analysis of Leadership Development Best Practices and Recommendations

Kate Duke, Chapel Hill, NC, defended her thesis, “FCV T.O.T.A.L: An Analysis of Leadership Development Best Practices and Recommendations,” Thursday, May 1, 2008. Duke is a CRM Project Manager/Trainer for Farm Credit of the Virginias (FCV). She graduated from Kansas State University in May with a Master’s in Agribusiness (MAB).

In the ever-changing marketplace, it is hard to maintain competitive advantage. Organizations have relied on improvements in technology, cost reduction, and pricing to differentiate themselves from their competitors.  Recently more organizations are realizing the importance of recruiting potential leaders and developing them further through internal programs. With more than half the senior management personnel eligible for retirement in the next five years, FCV, which is part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, created the “Training of Today’s/ Tomorrow’s Association Leaders” (FCV T.O.T.A.L.) development program.

“The demand for high-quality leaders will greatly exceed the supply in the next few years, so this leadership development program will be important to enhance skills of potential leaders within FCV,” Duke said.

As a member of the first FCV T.O.T.A.L. class, Duke evaluated the program for her Master of Agribusiness thesis project in order to make recommendations for improvement. She identified five best practices of leadership development: an organizational culture of leadership development, leaders developing leaders, 360-degree feedback, coaching and mentoring, and job assignments and action learning. Duke’s analysis revealed the FCV T.O.T.A.L. program follows all of these best practices, but she did make recommendations to further improve the program.

Duke’s recommendations for further improving the effectiveness of the FCV T.O.T.A.L. program are: further developing the strengths of T.O.T.A.L.; incorporating job assignments and/or action learning exercises; increasing participation of senior managers; developing a plan for life after T.O.T.A.L.; and maintaining a current curriculum. By making an investment in future leaders, FCV will have the capability to increase recruitment and retention of talented and effective leaders.

Brian Niehoff, Management professor and Duke’s thesis advisor, said, “This project has the potential to contribute to the success of Farm Credit of the Virginias’ leadership development program in the future.”

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/681.