April 2, 2023

Leadership is like gardening…

Does your leader have a green thumb?

Great leaders know how to cultivate their teams, while others are unaware or embrace that they have black thumbs. Is your leader a talented gardener or an unskilled one? Here’s how to tell the difference…

A talented gardener plants their flowers in an open space, gives them water and food to grow healthy and strong, and removes the weeds often. They prune as needed but only to encourage more growth, and to enable their flowers to bloom and grow to their full potential.

An unskilled gardener plants their flowers in a box, often forgets or intentionally limits the amount of water and food they need, and ignores the weeds. They over prune which limits and slows growth, thereby never allowing the flowers to bloom or thrive.

When you work for a talented gardener you are given opportunities to grow, take on new challenges, and continue to learn. They work to remove obstacles from your path, to limit resistance and keep you moving forward. They know when you succeed, they succeed, and their focus is on doing what is best for you and the company. A talented gardener is confident in their abilities, empathetic, altruistic, embraces accountability, and trusts you to do your job.

Talented gardeners not only help their teams grow, they help their companies grow. They help create a great company culture, they foster an environment that engages employees, increases productivity and welcomes the exploration of new ideas. This decreases turnover, increases employee satisfaction and loyalty, and sets the employee and company up for success.

When you work for an unskilled gardener you are often micromanaged, and not given opportunities to grow or take on new challenges. They often create more obstacles for you than they remove. They are more focused on empire building and achieving their own goals, than on developing other people. An unskilled gardener is insecure in their abilities, egocentric, controlling, lack accountability, can be vindictive when they feel threatened, and they trust only themselves.

Unfortunately, most unskilled gardeners fly under the radar, and are very good at keeping up appearances with senior leadership, meanwhile their teams struggle. Ultimately the company suffers because good people eventually leave for better opportunities, leaving people who have become complacent or who want to leave but feel trapped due to other obligations like family or finances. Over time, this significantly impacts a company’s culture, ability to innovate and long-term growth.

If you work for a talented gardener, consider yourself lucky! You have a leader committed to your growth and development. If you work for an unskilled gardener, it’s unlikely they will change and it might be time to consider making a move. Find a leader and company where you can truly thrive, because life is too short to limit your potential!

And if you are a senior leader, keep a close eye on the weeds you may have growing in your garden, there may be a few you need to pull.