Have you ever walked through a beautiful garden, where the plants and all within it are flourishing? How did you feel? Perhaps a sense of peace, order, tranquility? Joy, perhaps even bliss?
My Facebook friend Garth lives in South Florida. He has the most magnificent garden (top image). His photos elicit gasps of pleasure and delight, and a deep desire to visit and experience the beauty, majesty and tranquility of his creation.
My friend Carolyn also has a magnificent garden. She lives in the suburbs of Toronto. And her garden elicits similar responses to Garth’s garden.
Two gardens. Two gardeners. Different places. Garth’s garden enjoys hot weather all year round, but is subject to hurricanes and tropical storms. Carolyn’s garden traverses the extremes of Canadian weather, from the heat of summer to snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures in winter. Yet two things are constant – the commitment and dedication of Garth and Carolyn to their gardens and the joy their gardens bring to all who view them.
Garth and Carolyn came to mind as I ponder the state of many organizations – disengaged employees, toxic cultures, conflict and lack of ethics. Many are achieving their strategic goals in terms of increased revenue, market share and profitability and numerous investors are multiplying their wealth. Yet the people within the organizations, and the organizations themselves, are not flourishing.
And I wondered: what if leaders nurtured their organizations like Garth and Carolyn nurture their gardens?
Imagine the work that it takes to make and keep such gardens flourishing – an overall design appropriate to the climate and to the wishes of the gardener, careful choice and placement of plants with each in the appropriate spot for future growth, daily watering, regular weeding and fertilising, pruning the dead branches, sometimes removing plants that are not flourishing. There’s a lot of work that goes into making a garden flourish.
Now, think of your organisation: is it flourishing? What would it look like if it were? How would people feel experiencing this flourishing organization? And how can you make it flourish, or flourish more? Like the beautiful garden, a flourishing organization takes work:
- Intention – what’s the vision and purpose of your organization and is everyone clear on it?
- Design – are your structure and systems aligned and appropriate to the purpose of your organization?
- Are your people, like plants, carefully chosen and placed in the appropriate spot for their future growth?
- How do you tend your organization in terms of daily watering, regular weeding and fertilising, and pruning?
- What do you do when people are not flourishing?
And then there’s the gardener – the person, like Garth or Carolyn, who cares for and nurtures it, who gets up each day clear on the work to be done to keep it flourishing, knowing that skipping a day, or a routine, has consequences.
Today, think of yourself as a gardener, and ask yourself: “What do I need to do every day to nourish and nurture my organization?”
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