Living Our Practices Submissions: July 2022

Thank You for Joining the Conversation!

“Living Our Practices” contest explores our Cultural Pillars and Practices

In July we asked:

  • How are you strengthening supportive leadership?

No matter your role – everyone is a leader and can contribute to a positive team environment where others feel valued, supported, and listened to. Watch the video and tell us what actions you are taking in your role.

A big “thank you” to everyone who submitted in July’s contest. Check out the responses!

Paul Patteson (Agribusiness)

Supportive Leadership is a culture.
At our branch we work only if the team works. Process and completion is only efficient when we support each other in our every day endevours.
By acknowloging the human side of each person and responding to their person, we can support each other to feel that their work team is there with them in the truck, in the warehouse, and at the office.
Greet each person, support them when things dont line up, and praise when problems are overcome.
Engaging regularly with our staff, we discuss challenges and upcoming opportunities to help delegate and support the overall operations of branch. Creating ownership and purposely looking to support efforts and praising successes. We are aiming to build the trust in each other so support becomes the expectation and ultimately the culture that we work in.

Sam Engel (Agribusiness)

In Wilbur-Ellis Minot we are strengthening support leadership by taking time to visit with employees on hobbies and interests outside of work. Those in official and unofficial leadership roles by handling high stress situations calmly and working to come up with safe and effective solutions to problems. Our thoughts are that if we can come off as calm in the face of adversity then we can help the team to relax instead of creating more stress. When errors are made we work as a team to correct them and make sure that we learn from them within a supportive environment vs a demeaning one. We aren’t just a team in Minot, we are a family

Tarin Blow (Agribusiness)

I am strengthening supportive leadership by meeting employees at their level and understanding their needs. What questions do they have? What do they need help with? How can I help achieve their goal?

Lindsay McWilliams (Nutrition)

I believe a key component to being a supportive leader and associate is taking time to get to know and appreciate those you work with. This can include personal hobbies and professional work styles. As a newer Wilber-Ellis associate, I have tried to understand and influence how we can work together as a team to improve efficiencies. For instance, we were recently faced with a challenge building out a pipeline of work and ensuring we had the resources to cover the work as we drive more innovation into our business. We took the foundation of work the associate had and applied a few suggestions around project tracking, in turn developing a system for project tracking and resource estimation that will ensure we can effectively make decisions for work prioritization. This gives each associate the power of influence with their style rather than a “my way or no way” approach. As a remote associate, I also desire to lead with a level of appreciation for our operations team. So on each monthly visit to our Ameri-Pac site, I try to do one kind or engaging action for an associate while I am there. It maybe gifting them with a notebook that shows their personality or providing trivia questions to kick off their next lunch meeting. It is important for people to know they are seen, appreciated and others have a vested interest in them.

Carrie Williams (Corporate)

How are you strengthening supportive leadership?

For me, strengthening my supportive leadership is done by being available to and listening to what my team and coworkers are saying. It is important for me to provide a sounding board and then encourage team members to be creative as they develop solutions to the challenges they face. I provide needed resources, coaching, and training to help team members develop the skills needed to be successful. Most importantly, I take the time to thank and recognize team members’ contributions to our success.

Connie Simpson (Corporate)

Being new to Nachurs Alpine, getting the plant workers and leaders to feel comfortable discussing the needs and issues in St. Gabriel was very important. I discovered that breaking bread together was the best way to foster open relationships there. We had a day with ice cream & fish fry and another day two weeks later with fried chicken, fish and fries. Everyone contributed from operations and maintenance in some way. This was a very effective team building and allowed everyone to talk on important issues and eat lunch together. It was a very rewarding thing to witness.

John Hoyle (Agribusiness)

Supportive leadership to me is being approachable and empathetic with team members. This helps I believe in building trust with your team and help them overcome challenges they each may be facing. The better you understand your team and making it easy to come to you for support is a great thing.

Tara Cox (Corporate)

Beth Emmert (Agribusiness)

I am best with writing, so to support leadership I wrote up a few quick tips to follow to become more effective. Most of these are applicable in any situation.


  • Tools – Use all communication tools available, then get your team on board with access to one main method to stay connected for important updates and notifications.
  • Messages – Respond quickly. Acknowledge by repeating back or rephrasing, then give an estimated time to supply the requested information (it buys you more time that way). Set a reminder for follow-up so you don’t forget.
  • Response – Tired of repeating yourself? Your responses need logical change. Try a different approach or ask for help from a peer. People don’t remember things that don’t make logical sense.
  • Reaction – Delay reactions to stressful (non-urgent) news. Rephrase your understanding of the issue to ensure clarity, then allow yourself time to investigate before you decide what to do.


  • Look at people in the face when they’re talking to you.
  • Ask about families. Most of us have one.
  • Relate on a positive subject. We all know gas is expensive. No politics.
  • Eat food and drink coffee together.
  • Don’t be afraid of people in power or customers.
  • Talk to everyone with familiarity. Be genuine.


  • Admit when you don’t know something. Everyone knows what they know.
  • Know what is and isn’t your job. Don’t palm off jobs you don’t like, people will see you as lazy. Schedule time on your calendar to complete tedious tasks without interruption.
  • Point out your mistakes. Others can learn from and avoid making them. Bring errors to a manager’s attention right away – especially if you suspect more problems could arise. Don’t make the boss come to you, they’ll appreciate your candor and that you saved them time.


  • Make tools available to others so they can find answers themselves. Publish procedures in one place and update them when needed. Notify users of changes with links rather than email attachments.
  • Clarify goals behind policies. When others realize the reasoning behind procedure they’ll learn prioritization and find their own work rather than asking you what to do next.
  • Be helpful but don’t take over for those capable. Never take away independence.
  • Let people learn from mistakes. They develop deeper understanding (cause & effect) by fixing the mistake.

Holly Hambruch (Agribusiness)

I recently participated in an online class called “Dare to Lead” and what they presented as the definition of a leader really struck me and seems fitting here. Leader = Anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential. I think in my role as a BPL I am presented with many opportunities to strengthen supportive leadership. By visiting locations and developing relationships in those locations, I can encourage others who have the potential to impact the company in ways they may not have considered yet. Encouraging others to be a voice and empower those around them by stepping outside the box and sometimes doing things that might seem uncomfortable (sharing ideas on a TEAMS call). Also by recognizing when a process needs some work or seeing a process have great success that might be useful to a much larger audience and making sure to share that thought with others. I have been fortunate in my various roles with Wilbur-Ellis to always have had supportive leadership around me that continuously encouraged me to push myself to the next level and I want to do the same for others.

Smita Shetty (Connell)

I approach supportive leadership as a part of “Being Authentic”. Often supportive leadership is confused with “micromanaging” or “handholding”. It is more about being supportive of your team member & coaching them to achieve success. The first step i took towards supportive leadership was “Listening with attention to detail” when my team members talk & also when they don’t. I think this has helped me a great deal in my leadership journey. If one doesn’t listen to understand then one tends to depend on his/her preconceived notions & judgement of situation/people which surely doesn’t help. Leaders tend to focus on becoming a legend, but supportive leadership will help you leave behind a legacy!

Joshua Hansen (Agribusiness)

There are two things I focus on specifically to strengthen my supportive leadership – being openly available to my reports and trying my best to foster a supportive work environment. Each team member is valued and has something to contribute. The team I’m a part of is encouraged to bring new ideas and share their thoughts regarding existing work and the ways we work in the future. The goal is continual improvement and shared success, bringing value to the organization at large and our customers.

Madeleine Smeltzer (Corporate)

The core team members of Nexus: North America, the early-career business resource group (BRG), exemplify the practice of supportive leadership. Nexus: NA connects members within Wilbur-Ellis to a community of engaged and empowered people, gainful experiences, and opportunities for career development, education, and training. Nexus: NA is the convergence of ideas, talents, and insights of North American early-career employees.

Through programs like 100 Days and Growing, quarterly coffee chats, book clubs, and more, the Nexus: NA core team supports the well-being of each member by empowering members to lead thriving careers. The core team creates an environment where employees feel valued and supported while connecting members cross-divisionally. Nexus: NA members are in all stages of their careers, driving a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive workplace.

Nexus: NA core team members are Danny Vandecoevering, Katie Nix, Adam Lund, Corban Lehman, Rosa Marquez, John Kuhn, and Madeleine Smeltzer.

Denise Smutny (Agribusiness)

I believe it is critical to truly understands what motivates the people you are working with, what their strengths are and what their goals are that they want to achieve. Once you are aware of that you can support their growth to move to a management role, create learning opportunities for them in the current role or help them share their knowledge. Supporting and leading can be done upward, downward or laterally by capturing the needs of the employee and providing them the tools to achieve their goals. In my role supporting my team means listening to their ideas and working with them to show how those ideas can impact the larger picture making Wilbur-Ellis better for all of us.

Alik York (Agribusiness)

I feel like I am strengthening supportive leadership by asking my co workers more questions and helping them find the answers themselves. I feel like its important to have ownership and leadership in our roles and it helps us gain confidence in our products.

Daniel Groves (Agribusiness)

As the seed treatment specialist for Grand Forks I work closely with the bulk room making custom blends. I’ve learned over the past few years that everyone has long, strenuous hours and when an issue arises it’s best to take a step back and take a breath before the problem solving process especially when it comes to someone else making a mistake. Instead of getting mad it’s WAY more constructive to lead with a positive attitude and navigate the mistake so it doesn’t happen again. I’ve also learned that by taking some to buy the bulk room lunch every once and awhile or just stopping in and seeing how things are going goes a long way.

Daniel Woolley (Agribusiness)

I am strengthening support leadership by listening intently to feedback, being available and willing to help and go the extra mile, and understanding where there are problems that need solving. I try to mentor those that are early in their career.

I want to shout out Weston Buck for being a PHENOMENAL manager. He takes genuine interest in the team members individually and stands up for our successes. He works to make sure that everyone on the team is improving and is quick to give credit to his team and not take it for himself when he deserves PLENTY of credit

Ron DeRoche (Agribusiness)

I fully support “Water Cooler Talk Time”, many times we as a group don’t get to talk about general items that are going on around us both personally and professionally. We have many meetings to discuss specifics, but we don’t get to have those round table discussions that might be over cooking a pizza or solving a problem at work.
These are great team building times and where each of us learn a little more about our fellow employee.

Michael Chappelle (Agribusiness)

First I just listen. Then I follow up with possible validation. often time all it takes is to have a listening ear for an employee to move past an issue or a problem.

Amy Torres (Agribusiness)

I am strengthening supportive leadership by having an open door policy and asking for constructive feedback on policies and procedures. I welcome open suggestions and positive feedback from my team weekly.