Leadership Is A Lot Like Gardening

Do you engage in gardening? Yes, office potted plants count, too!

If you are, then you know the similarities. If you are not, you can still relate and learn from the lessons that I will share below.

My plants in my previous office. They have names. From left to right: Emma (taken from Emmie Ubarra), Grantia (taken from Grant Ceralde) and Tina (from Cristina, who gave me this plant). Both Emmie and Grant are very well respected Senior Executives who are as passionate about gardening as much as they passionate in developing their people. They are coaching me, too, on how to better cultivate my office plants! 🙂


Leadership Is A Lot Like Gardening

Lesson 1: Know your  plant. Plants come in different shapes and sizes and preferences, too. A succulent will survive with less water to grow (in fact too much water will cause root rot) while others will wilt in this condition. Some thrive under the sun, others are cool with indirect sunlight.

Same with employees. The approach that you, as a lead, prefer, might not always work for the team. The approach that may work for one of your team members, may not work for all the rest.

I would say that knowing your employees is a pre-requisite to a great coaching output.

Once you know the approach that best works for them, it will be a lot easier to develop the person.

There are many ways to do this but that will be for another article, soon!

Lesson 2: The size of the pot matters. The plant’s growth is stunted in a small container.

Same with employees. Restrictions do very little to inspire creativity and innovation.

Search engine giant, Google, is very flexible when it comes to allowing employees to work on passion projects. This eventually gave rise to Gmail and AdSense for example.

Personally, I find that I struggle in occasions when I am given exactly what to do, told how to do it, in that I should execute in that exact fashion and in that fashion alone. On the contrary, I am able to produce more meaningful and impactful results when I am given more freedom. I’m sure many people can relate here.

Lesson 3: Cultivate the soil. This allows better moisture retention because it breaks up the surface and allows air and water to easily be absorbed.

Cultivate the work environment. Remember that leads are very influential when it comes to setting the tone and the team atmosphere, whether intentionally or unintentionally. As that is the case, it is best to intentionally cultivate a great team environment. Many things can be done but a great start would be the lead’s disposition.

I remember a story from a few years ago. I was doing my floorwalk and noticed how one of the otherwise energetic and shall I say noisy teams is quiet with a bit of negativity and tension. I approached them and asked what’s wrong. One employee said, “she’s in a bad mood,” referring to her team lead. The team lead was a very moody person. Unfortunately, whatever her mood was becomes the theme for her team. This type of unpredictable and unpleasant work atmosphere lead to disengagement. It took a few feedback sessions and heart-to-heart conversations before things got better. What’s important was that it got better. Well, she’s still moody but she learned how to better handle her emotions in a way that does not affect her team.

You might have observed that these three lessons are very basic. Yes, they are. However, these are, in several instances, skipped, if not neglected.

We need to make sure that the basics are in place, make it strong and stable and see how far your team can go!

All the best!


I hope this helped. If you like this post, feel free to share and please click the ‘Follow’ button below or on the side; visit us again at the Engagement Imperative blog. FB: @engagementimperative

Working parent? Please visit Purposeful Parenting Journey FB: @purposefulparentingjourneyblog, where we explore anything and everything parenting.

Thank you and God speed!

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About Emile Therese

Emile Therese is a graduate of the University of Philippines in Diliman with a degree in Psychology. She is happily married. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with one amazing daughter (and hopefully at least one more child). She believes that values and character ought to be taught as early as possible and that these are key to community and nation building. This was also how she and her siblings were brought up by their two awesome parents! She is a Certified HR Professional who advocates employee engagement in its entirety. Emile believes that true employee engagement rests on the pillars of basic human needs and in ensuring that process and leadership basics are in place - the employee engagement imperatives. She hopes to contribute to making this world a better place for all of us now and the next generation. She loves sipping tea, conversations, reading and writing. The latter gave birth to two blogs - Purposeful Parenting Journey (purposefulparentingjourney.com) and Engagement Imperative (engagementimperative.com).

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