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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

How to Become a Green Thumb Leader Part 2

You can never grow a garden—a business—unless you plant seeds. You know the seeds: ideas, talent, and investments. Consider these garden concepts:

Plant seeds and give space to the sowers. A green thumb leader knows that it is only through dialogue that ideas can sprout and take root. Instead of jealously guarding “my ideas, my client, my territory”, a leader with an eye toward growing a “garden” takes no ownership but rather seeks to find which seeds have merit and who are the other “gardeners”.

As for giving space to the sewer, consider my vagabond tomato plant. It grew by surprise. In like fashion, where are the unexpected opportunities that can spring up if allowed to flourish? When newcomers bring ideas from other industries and businesses, are they welcomed or are they rooted out because “that’s not how we do things here”.

Feed different plants differently. Not every plant is fed the same thing, yet all plants must eat. My roses need a systemic for the rust and mildew, along with a topical spray. My oranges just need some citrus fertilizer every now and then. A green thumb leader understands the truism that “nothing is so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals”. Just as each voice has its own unique sonogram, each employee, associate, stakeholder needs a unique blend of “food”. For some, it’s “numbers”. “Give me numbers and I thrive.” For many, it’s the opportunity to learn and advance in knowledge. For others, it’s the engaging nature of the work itself that offers fulfillment. One size does not fit all.

Weeding is backbreaking work. A hula hoe alone will not suffice. It was not enough to turn over the soil and think that I had emptied my garden of the weeds. In fact, because I didn’t bend over and get close enough to the ground, I picked up only the surface “weeds”. What I really had managed to do was to churn the stronger ones into a hiding place where they surfaced stronger and more invasive then ever. A green thumb leader hates this part of the task. It means fact-finding. Accountability. And time. Not everything that is “green” belongs in my garden. Not every associate belongs with you. In fact, firing customers at times can also be the healthiest long-term fertilizer for a vibrant business

Take time to stop and smell the roses. I can get so overwhelmed with the “work” of my garden that I forget why I planted it. Just sitting by the side of the garden, watching my neighbors’ delight when I deliver bouquets to their doors, or smelling the fragrance in the evening are all the reminders I need. Why have you planted your “garden”? Are there people who delight in the work of your hands? What is the aroma that lingers after you have turned off the lights for the night?

Here’s wishing green thumbs for all of us.

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