Leadership is like gardening.

To lead a healthy life or to lead others well is much like gardening. While visiting my parents in Arizona, I had the opportunity to plant three Red Tips (a bush-like plant). I’ve always enjoyed gardening and well-designed landscapes. It’s therapeutic while also useful for learning about life and leadership.

Below is an example of how gardening provides lessons on leadership:
  1. Plant in the right place (sun and/or shade exposure and in the correct region of the country) = do everything you can to make sure the new team member is a fit for the job (experience, temperament, skill-sets, life situation, etc.).
  2. Dig the hole big enough so roots can easily establish themselves = do everything you can to remove obstacles from new team members (familiarize them with everything and everyone, be generous in every way possible).
  3. Water appropriately. Too much or too little water can damage and even kill the plant = every leader must adapt their style to the individual to be most effective. Some team members thrive with detailed instructions and management oversight while others enjoy a little more room to work independently (we usually call this micro-management or hands-off management and both extremes are usually counterproductive).
  4. Fertilizing appropriately. Most soils are unable to provide all the nutrients required by the plant so occasional fertilization keeps them fresh and healthy = time away for off-site learning experiences, bonuses, perks, vacations, etc., keep team members learning, growing, and rested.
  5. Weeding keeps the garden beautiful and should never be a huge chore if it’s done daily or weekly = keeping accountability on a daily or weekly basis (praise, coaching, and correction) goes a long way preventing the huge “sit-down” summit from happening. Try to weed daily… it’s better for everyone. You’ll be surprised how little there is to do when you make it a habit!

For other takes on leadership, you may want to also check these out:

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