#127 – Leadership is like Gardening

Last week I invited readers to compare leadership and gardening. I received this thoughtful response from Janet Beazlie ~ a professional landscape gardener. I hope you enjoy her insights.

Food for Thought ~

“A gardener can’t ‘make’ the plants in her garden grow, but she is responsible for creating and maintaining the conditions needed for growth: healthy soil, exposure to light, nourishment and protection from invasive plants and pests. Similarly, a good leader is responsible for providing conditions that are conducive to the changes she wants to make: designing work systems that support such actions, removing barriers, and providing
protection from others who might undermine the changes.

Consider trellises. These are structures used by gardeners to support upward growth of plants that may not be able to support their growth with only their own stems. The trellises not only support the plants as they grow, but they also protect them from winds and hard rains. Organizational change has its own storms. Good leaders find ways for the organization to support the changes they want by building in organizational supports (mentoring, training, rewards) as well as building in ‘protection’ for those brave workers willing to pioneer change.

When establishing new plants, the gardener often has to provide hand watering til the plant’s roots are developed and the plant is thriving in the garden. In organizations, in a time of scarce resources, timely delivery of resources is key. So it’s important for operations to receive what they need and thus avoid a crisis. At the same time, the leader needs to recognize that special handling and more frequent communication will be necessary to help new operations become established.”

Question for the day ~

In what way do these analogies between gardening and leadership resonate with you?

This is a great reminder of the critical role that leaders have and underscores the importance of their attentiveness. Thanks, Janet!