Leadership is Like Growing Tomatoes

Driving into work one morning, I heard a promo for a weekend radio show about gardening. The host gave a couple of teasers about growing tomatoes: the importance of fertilizing the soil and removing the suckers. The conclusion was simple; the more time you invest in gardening, the better the results will be. It got me thinking. This is true of anything, but it’s especially true for those of us in leadership (at work, or home) as we continue to grow in our relationship to others.

When we collaborate, we have the opportunity to take something away from someone who may have become a master gardener. It’s free with no charge just like listening to a radio show hosted by an expert who is providing tips based on the their successes and failures.

“The more time you invest in something, the better the results will be.”

When it’s time to finally pick that tomato, some people will undoubtedly pluck it from the the vine and immediately go into the house and make a sandwich, but there are others who take a different route. They gently pull it away and as they walk toward their house decide to keep going. They continue down the yard, go to the sidewalk, and walk next door to their neighbor’s home. They proceed to knock on the door, and once opened, present the fruits of their labor to their friend. They may find that later on that day they receive a phone call, or a visit from their neighbor where they remark how thankful they are to have been given that tomato and what it meant to them and how it just made their day… and if you ever have any more that you don’t need- just send them over. They may even bring you something that they’ve grown in return.

Collaboration is the same as sharing our finest vegetables. It shows that we care when we give, and also when we accept what others have to offer.

For leaders whose continued growth is a priority, developing relationships requires planting seeds in the fertile soil of the team, as well as removing anything that detracts from your influence. Allowing the others to deposit their seeds in the same soil is equally as important. What starts as a single plant can eventually turn into a garden when the greatest satisfaction comes from sharing the harvest.

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