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As I was out for a run early the other morning, I saw an elderly woman that was out working in her garden. I could not tell if she was just weeding or if she was collecting her harvest from the fall plants. Regardless of her purpose, seeing her in her garden reminded me of growing up and my grandmother forcing me to help her in her garden.

It made me think about the connection between gardening and leadership. It does not matter whether it is flowers or food; people seem to enjoy the activity of gardening. Let me share a few of the connections that came to mind as I was running.

Just as gardeners take the time to prepare the soil, plant and care for their gardens are very similar to leaders and their team. As you read over the lists, just think of the correlation between a green thumb gardener and a great leader.

A gardener must prepare the soil to create fertile ground for seeds and young plants. They understand that the preparation plays a part in the development of the plant throughout its life. Great leaders understand that they must prepare the environment for the growth of the team as well. The most important first step for leaders in growing others is to place them in the soil of belief. When leaders give the team member a healthy and safe environment, we set them up for long-term success.

Gardeners begin with a belief of success. You never see a gardener planting seeds with the expectation of failure. Most of the time those gardeners begin with a belief of a great harvest. As leaders, we must have an expectation for the team to succeed. Great leaders believe in the team and provide them with the encouragement needed to build them up.

A gardener knows their work isn’t done once the seed is placed in the ground. To give their plants the best chance of success they provide ongoing care and nourishment. As leaders, we must nourish those we lead with the same types of care. This care can come in forms such as training or be as simple as time. Great leaders understand that just placing a team member in the proper environment will not guarantee success.

I have also witnessed gardeners prune or adjust the growth of their crop. Great leaders and we must provide feedback and correction. This can be as simple as removing distractions or as harsh as removing some of the growth. We must remember that just as the gardener is doing the pruning for the benefit of the plant, our correction must be done for the benefit of the team member.

Gardeners seem to enjoy gardening the entire season. While the goal might seem to be the fruit, the best gardeners seem to get satisfaction from the act of gardening. The fruit is an added benefit. Great leaders understand that our harvest is the personal growth of those we are leading. No matter how great the ultimate goal is, leaders understand that the success is from the growth of the team. Completing the goal is an added benefit.

This week’s experiment: How is your garden looking? Have you just planted people in an environment and now just waiting for the fruit? Maybe it is time to do some pruning or some nourishing.