I have a large garden on property that used to be a farmer’s field. When I first rototilled the area—about 35 by 20 feet—I noticed the clay-like, rocky soil would need some work to produce what I had in mind. Yes, some lime would help, I thought, and of course some garden soil and compost. One thing I did was save coffee grounds to mix in because they create ideal conditions for … common earthworms.
Leaders might do well to think of the common earthworm. Let’s imagine my garden is a company—full of rocks, good in some places, not so in others. And one can always improve conditions, especially where the most important ingredient—people—are concerned. Yet what do most leaders do?
According to Hogan Assessments, most leaders don’t behave effectively. Because of this people are not likely to remain in the garden, causing turnover, turmoil and even worse, toxicity. People don’t leave companies. They leave other people.
Behavior is the key. If you have some leaders—at any level—who do not behave as the worms in my garden, you are at a decided disadvantage. Leaders get everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction. Over time, leaders should be discerning: not all parts of the garden are the same but you have to start somewhere and build talents, abilities and skill sets. Reward the worms.
I inspect my garden. I make sure the conditions are favorable—and I constantly add those coffee grounds. Failing to do this leaves everything to chance. Leaders measure behavior, in this case, of those worms.
Four years into my garden experiment, I am happy to report things are going well. This year, there was little preparation to the soil beyond tilling and more coffee grounds. Now I can pay attention to the big things too, like plant selection, sun and water. Yet I never forget what got me there: worms. Leaders should pay attention to the small stuff and not just the crisis of the day. And for leaders, preparation is everything.
Hogan Assessments teach us that leadership behaviors can be measured: too much can be a problem just as much as too little.
~Darrell L. Browning