How to find right ranch manager

Nearly all ranches have the choice of hiring a local. Someone who knows the area and people (they often “come with the ranch”). Can this be a good thing? Sure. But, local isn’t a sure-fire hiring recommendation. In fact, it often brings as many unwanted issues as it does apparent advantages.

For starters, if you consider yourself progressive in your approach, a long-time local might be more intent upon “how things are done around here” than what needs to happen in order to realize your objectives.

Read more: The A to Z Glossary of Ranch Management

Image of horses beneath mountain range

A good manager will naturally do one thing: manage. No matter if dealing with local issues or navigating state and federal agencies, his approach will be objective, discerning, and representative of your interests. This level of maturity does not come automatically with a local candidate. This suggests that a mix of both local and outside candidates is the best approach.

If more needs to be said, the local candidate will be challenged to maintain his loyalty to the ranch owner, while doing the same with longtime friends and neighbors, suppliers, and county government. The outside candidate’s challenge is to enter a new community, becoming a respected member, while advocating for the owner.

Read more: How to Qualify the Right Ranch Manager

No matter the original inspiration, vision or what has been the case since acquiring your ranch property, the prospect of a new ranch manager can be as much opportunity as it is risk. Having a deliberate approach and method to follow in this search can remove risk and bring new possibilities.

The best color on a horse is whatever color a good horse is wearing. As with love, when the right one comes along, we don’t get to choose the package! So, be open during the appraisal process… and expect to be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Read more: How Much Should I Pay My New Ranch Manager?

Thanks to Dan Leahy for sharing his insights about the vital but complex ranch-manager hiring process. Please contact him via the link on his bio page for more information and ranch-management expertise. 


  • With a graduate education in Management & Communication, Dan Leahy has held top jobs in construction and resource management. This has taken him from Texas to Alaska and to the most remarkable lands in North America. A working ranch manager, his time is increasingly spent mentoring young managers, addressing property rights issues and consulting with land owners. He employs two principle tools of his own design, including the "Advanced Placement Method" for ranch staffing and the "Balanced Enterprise" land management model. His home range is the high desert of eastern Oregon and northern Nevada. He can be reached at

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