As I watched her dance her way to the stage, I was thinking, from what felt like a mile away, how wonderful it was that we could escape into the mind and methods of our motivational speaker and leave all the leadership demands of quarterly results and forecasting behind, if only for an hour.
As she spoke, I looked around the room. Like myself, I believe most of my fellow leaders were planning how they would integrate these lessons into our next work day. I furiously took notes, while nodding and thinking, she had me, I’m in! Let’s do this!
Then, one sentence – no, actually just one word – prompted me to put down pen down, lean back in my chair and contemplate what I just heard: “…and when you go back to work tomorrow and disseminate the information you heard today down to your…”
Whoa, stop the train!
My immediate concern was deliver it down to my employees? Deliver it down, as if I was greater than they are, higher than they are, as if I stood towering over them? I have heard this same undertone used by many of my peers, so I have to change it! I picked my pen up, turned to a fresh page and began creating my concept for change…the Flower Theory.
In the flower theory, the seed, or founder, is at the core of the hierarchy, buried deep down in the soil. Still deeper down are the roots gathering and understanding what soil and nutrients to use to grow while also assessing the weather and just the right time to bloom. The stem then delivers what the roots have developed. Through their strength, they become the delivery system that allows the seed to become the flower that presents itself to the world.
The Seed. The seed is the founder, the initiator, the innovator, the one grain or ovule that keeps the company relevant by knowing what to plant, where to plant, and when to plant in order to grow the best garden possible.
The Roots. The senior leadership team, the directors, and the managers – it is their job to understand every aspect of what is needed to grow this flower and create a solid foundation for growth through knowledge and experience taking all factors into account. The root determines and develops the function and positioning, anchoring the plant and creating the foundation to feed the end goal, which in this case is the flower.
The Stem. The frontline leadership, the supervisors – it is their job to understand the message and path from the roots and deliver strength to the flowers.
The Flower. The flowers are the frontline employees. The best part of the company, the flower is the result of the foundation that has been laid as the seed, roots, and stem wait for the flower to present itself to the world. When it does, the flower should bring joy and beauty for all who see it, smell it, and receive it.
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary. Let me ask you this, would you plant a cactus in Alaska? If you answered yes, you are a seed! If you answered maybe, you are a root! But seriously, even a cactus can grow in Alaska if given a knowledgeable team of experts rich in history, knowledge, education, and the stamina to develop and manage the growth plan.
So how do you get your leadership garden to grow? The current state of business thought needs to be rototilled. We need to turn the soil, reintroduce growth against gravity by putting the seeds, roots, stems, and flowers back in order.
What thoughts would you include in the flower theory of leadership?
Today’s guest post is by Jackie Danielsson who currently works as a project manager and dreams of writing a book to improve how leadership is practiced.
Image source before quote: morgueFile.com