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Lead Like a Grower

Lead Like a Grower

Nurturing Success through Caring, Cultivation and Proactive Presence 

By Bill Dellecker 

It’s that magical time of year when nature energetically comes back to life, heralding Spring with a kaleidoscope of color.  To witness it unfold is good for the soul.  The same can be said for growth leadership, by learning how to Lead Like a Grower

Leadership can lie dormant within us, waiting for the right conditions to bloom.  Each of us possesses the ability to create those conditions. 

Leadership is not a position or a vested title; neither is leadership apparent authority.  Genuine leadership is a state of mind and conscious actions in pursuit of worthy goals. 

Inward reflection is where leadership begins. To “know thyself” is a precondition to becoming “Leadership Worthy.” Leadership can emerge any time and is not dependent upon being asked or assigned to lead. 

Let’s explore three proven approaches that stimulate growth leadership: 

  1. Leadership through Caring: The simple act of caring about and for others is a first step toward building relationships and, ultimately, trust.  All of us can practice leadership through caring as a matter of choice.  Genuine and consistent actions will lead to exponential outcomes when combined with the next steps. 
  1. Leadership by Cultivation: Growing a business is a lot like farming, something that I spent quite a few years doing earlier in my career. To produce a bountiful crop, careful attention must be paid to the land, crop selection and cultivation practices. In business, culture is like the land upon which the business grows; it can lie fallow or be made fertile through proper cultivation practices.  Some of a grower’s most important work occurs before a crop is ever planted. Effective leaders invest the time to plan and prepare their business for healthy growth up front. 

Growth for the sake of growth is not a worthy goal. But growth matters, and here is why. If a tree is not growing, something is wrong; it could be the soil conditions, nutrition, disease, improper planting or something else. If you were an arborist, you would evaluate both the tree and the site and then make the needed corrections. If you are a leader and your business is not growing, you should be evaluating it similarly, because lack of growth points to a problem with organizational health and vigor. 

Healthy businesses will grow naturally as a result of creating the right environmental conditions: 

  • Culture, which is like the fertile soil upon which a business grows and attracts capable people to cultivate it; 
  • Information, which feeds effective and timely business decision-making 
  • Capital, which, like fertilizer, fuels growth 
  • Products and Services, which, like photosynthesis, provide healthy exchanges in the market  
  • Right Place, Right Time, which, like a marketable crop, assures that your strategy is aligned with market needs 

There are other intangible factors at work, along with the influence of external factors beyond the leader’s control. By controlling and balancing the factors within their control, however, leaders optimize their organization’s potential for growth, as we’ll explore next. 

See Also

  1. Leadership through Proactive Presence: Regardless of role or situation, a person can choose to lead by maintaining a positive focus on those things which can be controlled, while setting aside those that cannot.  This is evidenced by choosing to step up first and actively guide team efforts, so a leader must be present to win. 

Growers understand that Mother Nature is a fickle business partner and take steps to mitigate the effects of external forces. Leaders in today’s volatile world have to deal with pandemics, supply chain disruptions, labor woes and other macro-economic factors; these forces add even greater importance to optimizing the things that can be controlled. 

Absentee farming does not work– neither does absentee leadership. 

There are myriad skills for a leader to learn and continually sharpen but growth leadership can emerge at any time through harvesting the power of these three approaches.  Your journey begins with a decision to Lead Like a Grower. 

Bill Dellecker is Chief Operations Officer for Kansas City-based HeartLand LLC, a leading horticultural services firm with national reach.  He has distilled a lifetime of lessons in learning to lead in his book Leadership Worthy – How Leaders Are Made, available at or other online book sellers. 

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