If you are like many leaders, you endeavor to cultivate behaviors to improve your leadership capabilities. Taking actions like being active in professional networks, reading the latest business books, sharpening your technical and interpersonal skills. These are all beneficial, but sometimes the best lessons can be found in unexpected places, like the garden.
Plan– For a garden to be healthy and productive, you need a plan. How much space do you need? What type of vegetation will you plant? What are the most pressing needs for harvest? Similarly, leaders need to have an actionable plan for their team. What are the business needs? How does the department, and each team member support the business? Do you continually communicate with a compelling message to inspire your team?
Prepare – When gardening; it is imperative to prepare the soil, clear out old debris, and provide nutrients appropriate for the crop. As a leader, are you clear on your expectations? Do job descriptions match current responsibilities? Are you being proactive in your approach?
Nurture – A garden requires ongoing attention; food, water, and weeding. As a leader are you providing the care that your team needs? Do you meet regularly? Provide opportunities for development? Cast a vision for the career path of your direct reports? When plants are neglected, they languish or die. Neglect your team and they may become comfortable with the status quo, fail to thrive, or leave.
Observe – A healthy garden can quickly become overgrown or destroyed by weeds, pests or disease. The attentive gardener will notice small changes & threats and aggressively intervene. Have you noticed a change in commitment, attitude, or quality of work? If so, schedule an open discussion to understand what may be sabotaging your employee.
Showcase – When flowers have bloomed or vegetables have ripened, it is time to showcase the crop. It may be a bit of a stretch, but as a leader, find opportunities for your team to shine, take the lead, and demonstrate their passion, contribution, and ideas.
A garden won't flourish on its own and an astute leader should be willing to get their hands dirty to help their team thrive.
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