Leadership is like gardening. You don’t always get what you want. It requires far more preparation than is apparent. Leadership and gardening are two sides of the same coin.
I have been gardening for over two decades but just recently, say the last seven years, started getting what I want from my beds.
When I started gardening in the early 1990s, my mindset was similar to that of many new leaders. Subliminally, I thought, how hard can it be to dig a hole, put a seed in it, cover it up, give it some water now and then, and ensure it gets sunshine? This is not rocket science! I would get results that reflected this unskilled, unprepared and disconnected attitude toward growing plants.
It's similar to leaders who want to grow high-performing employees. Simply asking them to get work done by a specific time and giving them some insight into how it could be done is not enough to cultivate high-functioning employees. If this is your approach, you likely are getting results similar to my early days of gardening efforts.
Here’s the missing link as I see it. I needed to become a student of gardening. This means learning as much as possible about each plant I wish to grow. I couldn’t take the one size fits all approach to my plants. Each has unique needs for a specific type of soil, frequency of water, and amount of sunshine (morning, mid-day or afternoon sun).
The formula for the missing link is the same for leaders and their employees. When you make time to learn about your employees, their strengths, and their unique needs that must be met if they are going to thrive and, of course, where in the organization they are best suited, it is as if your employees magically become self-directed and high performing.
The mix of ingredients required to build workplaces equivalent to fertile garden soil lies in what I call Integrative Leadership practices. These practices are about self-leadership habits, leadership skills, decision-making, operational excellence and innovation. In addition, these ingredients are balanced out with what I call Inter-Human Responsibilities (IHRs).
Like my early gardening days, I had to learn how to apply the formula for growing each unique plant. The results are worth the time, effort and consistency required for your desired outcomes.
Starting this month, if you are new to leading others or aspire to lead others, and if you work in diverse workplaces, I offer you an opportunity to develop this formula of Integrative Leadership practices through our seminars, courses and executive coaching sessions.
Though it has been more than two decades of growing plants, I still enroll in various learning spaces to ensure that my formula is relevant to my plants' needs and will help me reap the desired results. I apply this decades-old practice to meet my clients’ needs.
I dedicate this article to the following colleagues. They have been inspirational in supporting me on my journey to deliver my Integrative Leadership practices to my clients. They are genuinely trailblazers in their rights:
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