As a Leader, Do You Have a Green Thumb?

3 tips on cultivating healthy growth in your team

How green is your thumb when it comes to cultivating high-producing teams?  Do you throw a few available people together and expect great results?  Just like a green thumb in the garden, you must give proper care and consideration for your team to see award-winning results.  What can you do to develop a thriving team?  Let’s explore what it takes to have a green thumb in your organization.

Lack of Follow-Through Leads to Poor Results

Just about every spring when everything is fresh and green, I try my hand at gardening.  In the summer when everything is hot and buggy, my interest wanes, my garden withers, and I’m reminded again that I am not a true gardener.  This lackadaisical attitude could squelch more than a garden if carried into the business world. Just as a true ‘green thumb’ would be diligent to see that his or her garden thrives, a true leader must be diligent to see that his or her team thrives.

Whether you’re growing plants or growing a team, there are some strong parallels to achieving great results for either.  To ensure that your efforts end with better results than my garden (especially in mid-summer!), consider these 3 leadership questions to properly care for your team.

Three Questions to Consider to Grow a Successful Team

  1. What conditions are best for your team members to thrive?
  2. Are you regularly “feeding” your team members?
  3. Are you pruning in a way that is helpful?

Provide Proper Conditions for the Best Growth

Don’t make the mistake of putting a team member in the wrong role.  Just like certain plants need more sun and water than others plants, so it is with people – on a different level.


Proper care leads to growth for plants and your team

Each person has a unique set of strengths and competencies. These can be optimized when they are placed in conditions that will tap into those strengths.

Know your team well enough to know what makes a person ‘tick’. Know who would complement each other to bring the best results.  A team assessment could be a very helpful tool for ascertaining this.

Asking someone to fill a role simply because there is a vacancy is not the best course of action.  You don’t want a valuable team member to wilt because they were not given conditions that equip them to succeed.

Feed Your Team Regularly – and throw in some extra good stuff occasionally

It’s an obvious fact that plants need to be fed.  Water is most essential, but some type of fertilizer or compost can work wonders.  Carry this thought into your organization.  Are you providing your team with what they need to succeed?

Your team’s most basic needs are the right communication and the right resources.  Are you providing clear direction and expectations?  Are you certain that you’ve communicated the “who, where, why, when and how” of what your team needs to know?

It’s easy to assume they understand because it’s so clear to you, as the leader. That is not always the case. It’s probably safe to err on the side of over-communicating.

Additionally, does your team have access to all that they need?  The proper technology and resources?  These two factors – communication and resources – are the basics for the growth of your team. However, more “fertilizer” is needed to optimize growth.

Onboarding is Essential for Giving your Team the Best Start

The right start is essential to healthy growth.  This begins with the onboarding plan.  Does your organization have a comprehensive onboarding process that helps the new hire acclimate to your organization?  Beyond that, are your team members given proper training to succeed in what you’re asking them to do?  Just like watering plants, training is not a once-and-done task. It needs to be a regular part of your organization’s culture.

If you’re interested in giving your team an extra boost, as you do when feeding a plant, consider what would really make them flourish.  An extra incentive?  Flexible work hours?  A friendly competition?  This may look very different for different teams.  Know your members and think of what would be most meaningful to them.

Prune Carefully, but Intentionally, for the Longest Lasting Teams

Pruning.  This word might make you cringe a little.  An inexperienced gardener may feel like they’re hurting a plant when they cut it back.  However, a true expert knows this is the best thing if there is going to be lasting growth.  Likewise, a seasoned leader will know that properly delivered criticism is a huge tool for future growth and success.

With gardening and leading, you need to handle the pruning in an appropriate way.  You don’t start hacking away at a plant or a person in the name of “improvement”.  Be considerate and be smart. Plants need to be cut back if they are going to do their best.  Are you giving constructive criticism?  Don’t let an errant behavior continue and weaken the team.

Most of us are not relying on our green thumb to put food on the table.  However, our organizations do rely on us to grow healthy teams.  Although the bugs and heat may deter you from enjoying a prolific garden, don’t let obstacles derail you in the workplace.  Be diligent to provide your employees with the right conditions, the right food and the right pruning.  Then enjoy the growth.

Centennial has been helping organizations develop thriving leadership teams for over 40 years.  If growth is what you’re seeking, we can get you there.  888-366-3760.

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