One of my favorite things to do ever since I have moved into my house is to work in the yard. I know this is not something loved by all 26 year-olds, but I have grown to love planting plants, cutting the grass, trimming the hedges, etc. I think a lot of the reason why I love it is because I get to see immediate results – whereas in my career we aim for long-term results over the short-term.
This year in my yard, Angela and I wanted to try something new; we wanted to be like every good southern family and build a garden. Over the past 3 weeks we have dug, tilled, and built a garden into the landscape of our back yard. As much work as it has been, I have a feeling that the fun part is just getting started.
The garden has also taught me a lot about the role of a leader to prepare others. I understand that garden analogies are a bit cliché, but there is a lot to take away.
As I was planning he garden, I decided that I wanted to try my first garden with seeds as opposed to full plants. Knowing that there is a good chance of failure if I did not do things correctly, I carefully tilled the land, mixed in the right nutrients into the soil built up mounds as I was supposed to, and carefully sewed the seeds into the soil. Then came the hardest part – now it was my turn to sit back and trust that I had done everything right and wait to see the plants appear.
I do believe that a leaders role in developing others has many similarities to what I have learned planting a garden. As a leader we have the responsibility to develop the next generation of leaders who will come after us to continue the vision and mission of what we are trying to accomplish. It has been said in leadership that success is succession but succession will only work if you play your role as a gardener.
As you work to develop a young leader, it is important to prepare them for success prior to letting them do it on their own. You as a leader need to “get the soil just right” so they will be able to grow into the role you are placing them in. Do not take a short cut and miss the important step of investing in a young leader before they lead fully – get the soil right and then let them grow. Like in gardening, if the soil is not prepared right the plant will not grow – if you future leader are not prepared, they will never fully flourish in their roles.
I think that the great thing about viewing yourself as a gardener when developing others is that your role is truly never done. As I watch my plants begin to emerge from the ground there is not much I can do for now except water them…for now. Watering is all I can do as I have to give them time to grow an develop a little on their own. But the next step requires much from a gardener – I will have to continue to prune the plants back, pull weeds from around them, help guide them as they grow, etc. The role of the gardener is never truly over.
As you develop young leaders, think of yourself in this way. Even after you pass off leadership and your successor is growing into that role, remember that young leaders need someone to help them prune back the areas in their life that are not producing, they need someone to help them get rid of the weeds and distractions around them, and they need someone who can help get them back in the right direction If they start growing down their our own path. Your role is never done as a leader if you are concerned with developing the leaders of the next generation!
My challenge to you is to always find someone to be investing in who is younger than you. Do not miss an opportunity to develop young leaders around you and help them achieve what God ha called them to.
Who is someone who has invested in you in these ways?