You Reap What You Sow

You must give to get;You must sow the seed,
before you can reap the harvest.

Scott Reed  

There are remarks that sow and remarks that reap.
Ludwig Wittgenstein  

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap
but by the seeds that you plant.

Robert Louis Stevenson


These days there is a lot of news about start-ups; brand new companies attempting to establish themselves based on an idea and driven by an entrepreneurial spirit.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most new companies fail within the first two years.  Across various industries, two-thirds are still operating after two years and 44% are still in business after four.

Restaurants have the highest failure rate (cited by some experts as being as high as 90%).  One study, done in the ‘90s, suggested the biggest reason was that budding new owners did not exhibit the willingness to make the immense commitment necessary to operate the business.  Like tending a garden, a business requires good and constant attention to grow.

Sow What?

Good question; I am glad you asked.  Leadership is like gardening.  It is all about how you prepare the soil.  During their first few months, new employees are cultivated to succeed or fail.  A company must have a good understanding of its expectations for every position’s role as well as how it contributes to the whole.  Moreover, if new employees do not have those expectations communicated to them, they will not understand what they are supposed to accomplish.  If they do not receive training, feedback and recognition, how will they grow in their job?  Your organization’s growth depends on theirs.

Employees are another kind of start-up.  If a company does not commit to choosing, training and managing well, employees will not be successful.  Of course, some will say it is up to the employee to make an effort to learn their job, to grow professionally and succeed.  From the perspective of their entire career, that may be correct.  However, from the perspective within a particular company I believe the company and its leaders have the lion’s share of the responsibility to help the employee grow, since that is who hired them in the first place. 

Leaders Need a Green Thumb

As a leader, you have to be a master gardener with respect to your employeesYou pick them, you plant them and you must tend to them properly so they take root.  Good care occurs formally through orientation, training and performance management and informally through personal communication and feedback.  Your treatment is essential to their success.  In addition, so is your example.  How you comport yourself around your employees sets the tone for everyone else.  “Do as I say, not as I do”, is not how to get folks to follow you.  Some prolific gardeners talk to their plants, some play music for them, all take good care of them to get them to thrive.  Your job as a leader is to do the same for your employees.

The Grass is Always Greener, etc., etc.…

We all have a tendency to see things as better on the other side of the fence.  However, if that is true, it leaves no reason for you or your employees to stay and make things better.  Your job as a leader is to create an environment where ideas and people can grow.  To assure that growth and keep employees on your side of the fence, commit to your mission and to them.  Learn to deal with the uhhh…manure you find, show everyone how to fertilize and get ready to harvest.

Here to serve,


John Duba

Next month:  R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Soap Box Alert!)

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