Gardening and Leadership: An Analogy

The definition of a successful gardener lies in his capacity to appreciate and understand natural growth processes. The shift in our perception of businesses since the days when engineers interpreted organizations as they analyzed machines for their performance is to understand that companies are breathing customs of humans. As the potential for growth is in the seed, it is available in the firm’s members individually and collectively. However, in the same manner that the gardener does not affect growth in an immediate sense, to direct the seed to grow, the leader can only help generate the right conditions for growth. Change occurs through a synergy between the seed and its surroundings. It forms a self-reinforcing evolution process. No amount of force from the manager can change or expedite the natural process of growth. What the leader as the gardener can contribute, is to check the conditions that restrain growth. The gardener will focus on providing sunlight, adequate water, soil nutrients and room for the roots to grow and the right temperature.

The leader builds the best conditions for growth by concentrating his attention on trust levels (allowing for creativity and innovation), shared vision, the quality of teamwork and relationships, and the diplomatic positioning of the organization concerning its environment. This way, leaders don’t drive change but participate in the growth processes and mitigate change restraints.

Notably, the gardener’s comparison illustrates how leaders should be alert to the spring of seeing themselves as owners that are authorized to all kinds of freedom and privileges—the spirit of stewardship guarantees both humility and responsibility. Stewardship eventually indicates the belief that we, as human beings are not Gods but are blessed with the gift of life and the chance to contribute in a unique way to our world with respect, productivity and creativity. A leader’s spirituality is by no means irrelevant to his influence and ability to create an environment for growth. In last few years, an increasing number of articles and books on the subject indicate that spirituality in the workplace and the leader’s leading role in guiding an organization’s spiritual quality has become more than a fad.

The art then for the manager is to build together with others, an atmosphere favorable to the firm’s growth and personal growth. The organization’s development can be regulated financially in business but more importantly, in the level of realization that the members experience in being part of it.

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