I will admit upfront. This may be one of the oddest analogies for leadership, but just hear me out.
As I was driving home on Friday, I saw a sprinkler system on. There is nothing unusual about this, except for the fact that it was raining. And, throughout the day, we received several inches of rain. All the work had happened earlier; everything was watered thoroughly already.
What are the leadership lessons?
Don’t come to the achievement late in the game. Just as watering grass after a fulfilling rain produces no results, having a leader come in after the success with motivations or suggested actions is unproductive. It’s de-motivating as well. You’ve been there. The hard work is done, and then some executive comes in and sprays their after-the-fact wisdom at everyone. Yes, it is like showing up to an extinguished fire with a watering can — too little, too late.
If you are a leader with responsibilities for a project or initiative, then just don’t show up at the end and claim success.
Nurture consistently and evenly. Just as you water your lawn once or twice a week, nurture your team members consistently. Sporadic guidance dries the soil for productive engagement. Being a leader means being a coach to team members — all team members, not just select ones. If your sprinkler misses an area, it will dry up and disappear. The same goes for your team members.
If you are a leader of people, then nuture your team members consistently, evenly, and completely.
Select the right people. In lawns and surrounding vegetation, native plants are not often used. Plants that you are familiar with are usually selected, because you are comfortable with them. However, this approach requires more watering and increases the risk of being successful for the long term. Being a leader means selecting the right people, spending the time upfront during interviews, and determining if they have the capacity to grow and be productive for the long term. It is important to have a diverse team as well as individuals who will support and enhance your culture.
If you are a leader who is hiring, then spend the time to select the right people with the goal of building your environment with positive, energetic, and highly valuable individuals.
Timing, nurturing, and selecting all play a role in leading in a productive way.
How did it work? Are their valid leadership lessons from something as simple as a sprinkler system?