Leadership and Gardening – an update

Following on from our Improbable note about Leadership via Gardening, may we also draw attention to the work of Dr. Thorsten Grahn (of Regent University, Virginia Beach, US) who not only considers the analogies between gardening and organizational leadership but is also one of the very few organizational observers to have examined the leadership implications of artificial flowers. See: Artificial Flowers are Beautiful, but Do Not Grow.

Paper_flowers_in_vaseThere are many good reasons to prefer artificial flowers to natural ones. The good ones look extremely pretty. Even after a month in a vase they are still in full bloom, the leaves have not gone limp and they require no water, no sunshine and no nutrition to keep looking pretty. They will never die.

Artificial flowers only have one disadvantage: they do not grow! They stay the same forever. They will never die, but only, because they never lived.

Sometimes leaders wish their staff would behave like wonderful artificial flowers. However, soon they would discover that there is no more growth, no more flexibility and no more adaptation to a changing environment. In fact, no more change at all.

Organizations need living people who want to grow, and not people, who want to keep the status quo. The leadership must treat the people as living plants that need much care, but in the long run they will always outshine the ‘artificial flowers’ in the organization.“

[photo courtesy Tom Harpel @ Wikipedia]