In my career, I’ve seen some great and not so great leaders. The not so great have been plentiful. The great ones though the most memorable. Typically, the not so great would ride in on the white horse to fix the problem for you, make you feel like crap then ride off again. Lots of noise and visibility about them. They are never off the transmit button with plenty of telling.
On the other hand, the great ones seemed less intrusive. They were there when you needed them, but in the background, supporting, positively challenging and encouraging. Sometimes they would ride in to fix a problem, but it was more about what I could learn rather than making me feel like crap, so I wouldn’t do it again.
It seems I’ve read a small forest equivalent of books and reference material about what leadership is. The amount of material I’ve consumed doesn’t make it any easier. Years could pass (in some ways it has) trying to “think” through what leadership is. It has for me.
Lead like a Gardener
Or you could listen to Stanley McCrystal’s thoughts about leadership. “Lead like a gardener”, he says. You can’t physically make a tomato grow. The only thing you can do is create the environment for the tomato to grow. The richer the environment the better the tomato. Everything starts with the right seeds. Plant them in fertile soil. Constantly nurture and tend to its growth. Help the plant be strong.
This is a powerful way to think of leadership. A divine explanation of what I have experienced in my life and career. Great leaders create a rich environment to thrive. They nurture, constantly observe, providing the feedback to promote growth not stunt it. They know people, like plants, are weakest at the early stages of growth. The more they grow the stronger they get.
So, what are you doing to tend to your leadership garden?