Management from a business perspective is really the embodiment of leadership. It's for that very reason we need to look no further than the cowboy to understand 10 keys to leadership in business and life.

  1. A cowboy understands that if his word isn't worth something, there's not much to say. A cowboy understands that standards matter, and values count for something.

  2. A cowboy puts the job first. Riding for the brand means something. He takes care of his horse, the cattle, the land, his family and his friends before himself. To a cowboy, principles aren't platitudes; they're the foundation that guides his life. Self-sacrifice, loyalty and commitment to higher ideals not only engender respect, they're also the foundation of true success.

  3. A cowboy leads by example. He never starts a job without a clear understanding of what he wants to accomplish. He sets the highest expectations for his own actions and efforts, and he expects no less from those who sign on with him.

  4. A cowboy doesn't panic. He understands that in the midst of a stampede, one must keep his wits. It isn't that he isn't scared in a time of crisis, but the code is so engrained there's no dilemma over how to respond. He has a quiet confidence that comes from knowing all you can do is your best, and that's usually enough.

  5. The cowboy's code, his values, his relationship with his Maker, and his loyalty to friends are intimately understood. A cowboy understands there are things worth dying for, and a man who's uncompromising on his core beliefs is a man people willingly follow.

  6. For a cowboy, it isn't the accolades. It's getting the job done and performing well that matters. It's all about teamwork. Take rodeo competitors as an example. Even while fiercely independent and intensely competitive, everyone is there to pull the other's rope or even lend their best horse.

  7. A cowboy is loyal — almost to a fault. If you can't prevent your friend from wading into a wreck, then you're obliged to follow him in.

  8. A cowboy may be a man of passion, but his trademark is patience. The cowboy embodies the combination of keeping one's head but almost always opts for action rather than waiting for a better opportunity or more information.

  9. A cowboy is forward-looking but understands the future is built on the legacy of the past. Today's success is dependent on yesterday's efforts. That, in turn, lays the foundation for the future.

    Whether it's drought, uncooperative cows or a monumental task, a cowboy is committed for the long haul. Dependent on Mother Nature, he knows that, while it's possible to take shortcuts to achieve short-term goals, long-term success is often dependent on making the hard choices now.

  10. A cowboy never writes a check he can't cash. He understands the outcome may be uncertain, but his willingness to give his all never is. A cowboy has a plan, but he has a gift of focusing on the important things. He doesn't over-analyze a problem, but simply understands the objective and is willing to adapt when outside factors change.

Troy Marshall is editor of Seedstock Digest and a regular contributor to BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly. To sign up for the free newsletter delivered by e-mail every Friday afternoon, visit