Planting the Garden of Leadership

Posted by Brenda Yoho

Have you ever thought of Leadership like a garden? March 21st marks the first day of Spring, the signal to all of us to prepare for the season ahead.

Many begin the season with a little “Spring Cleaning,” and some start to prepare for beautiful flowers and vegetables growing in the gardens we will see around us soon. So why not think about leadership during this season of growth!

This season reminds us of the growth ahead and the renewal which will be unveiled. The sun's rays brush across the lands touching the branches, reaching the roots, and warming the seeds planted. Clouds parade by as the rain showers dance to the music of the thunder, and the sun appears with the rainbow as the finale bringing hope for another day.

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot, and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” — Charles Dickens, Great Expectations. It is a season of transition at this time, an opportunity to review in order to renew our commitment to complete our goals for growth.


Growing

  • Take an inventory of all of the things which are achieving the established goals.
  • Now, look at the things that are not achieving the established goals.
  • Revisit the list and decide what should go, what should stay, and what is on the maybe list that needs some adjustments.
  • Now that we have sorted let’s do the cleaning so we can begin our planting!

Re-Planting

  • From the review of your goals, “re-plant” the focus on those working well. Let your team know what is growing, what they are doing great with, and how to continue to grow with these goals.
  • Now take a look at those which are not doing well and let the team know we will need to remove these from our list so our efforts can be focused on the ones that are working to help them to continue to grow. We will take these efforts off our list for now and will look to see how they can be incorporated into our next grouping at a later time.
  • These goals work, but not at the level, we need them to be. Let’s look at these goals with the ones we need to remove. What can we do to “re-plant” them in a more focused approach to accomplish what we need them to do? What is the difference between these and the ones that are performing well?

Weeding the Garden

Now that we have given our garden some time to grow, we may have a few “weeds” to remove. Weeds are the things that can overwhelm a plant and eventually the entire garden if we do not address them early. Weeds can come in the form of individuals, strategies, practices, approaches, curricula, assessments, and many other items you can think of to insert in the category of weeds which have a negative impact on your efforts. As a leadership group, you can identify the areas to address and “weed” the garden to allow it to grow. Weeding takes consistency, daily maintenance, and determination to ensure the integrity of the work.

When you are in the growing season, it is critical to pay close attention to the details of everything and to support the fidelity of the programs being implemented for growth.


Nurturing and Nutrition

Gardens grow when we can provide the care and nutrients it needs. The same is required for those we serve as leaders. We need to work on this daily, just as we need to do with our gardens. We have to think about our staff as being in the hot sun all day long. Our gardens need water, and our staff needs H20 (Help, Hope, and Optimism). Please provide them with daily opportunities to celebrate wins, someone to be visible to see, open doors to come to talk to someone, and for the environment to be okay with not being okay and free to ask for help.

Growth will come with all the right elements provided to all of the parts of the garden.


Harvest

Leadership is about the growth of everyone and not just a select few. Each individual in our “garden” is essential, and we will help them grow. It is our responsibility to provide the opportunities and environment to find all they need in every season, not just in the “spring” season of growth.

Seasons will come quickly in leadership, and it is vital to know how to respond in each season. An author named David L. Neidert wrote a book titled Four Seasons of Leadership, published in 1999. The book is divided into four sections Winter (Reflection), Spring (Renewal & Growth), Summer (Fixing Up), and Autumn (Transition). I have not read the book, but I googled to find out if there was anything similar to what I was writing and found it. I think I will find a copy and give it a read, but I am not sure I would describe the seasons as he does, we did agree on Spring as far as the descriptive words selected.

I will let you know what I think about the other seasons of leadership once we reach them, but until then, “Spring” into action with a garden full of growth this planting season!

"I only have 2 rules!"
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