Trees & Teamwork – Leadership Reflection from Maxwell
Here’s a short article from John Maxwell that is a number of years old but has lasting nuggets of wisdom.
I think the points that stick out most to me this time around reading it are collaboration and debriefing. Collaboration is so crucial or else you don’t have buy-in; you don’t have the best ideas; and you don’t engage the best of others in the pursuit. As well, I think de-briefing is ignored far too often. We do something and move on, failing to learn and glean wisdom from the journey because we fail to stop and reflect together. De-briefing enables learning to occur; it enables the team to work through anything that came up during the process, and it allows relational bonds to go deeper. So here is the article, I encourage you to read and reflect on it! – Mike
TREES AND TEAMWORK
By Dr. John C. Maxwell
Leadership lessons are all around for those who know how to look
for them. I’ve observed some powerful motives for leading
through teams from the trees around me.
A few winters ago, parts of the southeastern United States,
including Atlanta where I now live, endured a much tougher than
usual winter. Following a wet, six-inch snowfall, pine trees
made a great parable of the need for teamwork.
Along the roads I noticed that where tall, young pine trees grew
in large stands, even though the branches were bowed with the
heavy snow, the trunks and branches were able to lean against one
another, thus providing support. When the snow melted, those
trees that had support sprang back into their usual vertical
position. But where that same species of tree stood alone, the
snow’s burden had a much different effect. Branches bent until
they snapped. Occasionally, the trunk even split in two.
Otherwise healthy, young trees lay broken on the snow.
On the West coast, where I previously lived, a different type of
tree provided another dramatic parable. The giant redwoods only
achieve their great size in forests of redwoods. The root
systems of these mammoth trees are relatively shallow. Planted
alone, they will inevitably topple in high winds. But in redwood
forests, their roots become entangled and bound together below
the earth’s surface. Each tree is tethered by all its neighbors,
and together they can withstand hurricane force winds.
Leaders who go it alone will fail alone. Collaborative
leadership takes more effort, but it yields greater results.
Collaborative leadership takes more time, but it provides a
greater probability of success. The adage, “None of us is as
smart as all of us” becomes evident when your failure is a direct
result of failing to enlist the input of people on your team.
1. Plan together.
This allows you to share the victory with your team, and allows
your team to share with you in the face of defeat.
2. Prepare together.
Getting input from your team members not only improves your
chances of winning, it also prepares others for leadership roles.
When leaders and potential leaders work together, they learn from
each other new ways of processing information and planning
3. Celebrate together.
Never pass up an excuse to throw a party. One of the most common
flaws I see in leaders across the country is when they reach a
significant milestone, they immediately set their sights on
another without stopping long enough to celebrate the victory
they’ve just won. Do it! Not for you, but for everyone else who
gave so much to make the win a reality. And if you lose one once
in a while, celebrate the fact that it could have been worse!
4. Debrief together.
After each win or loss, schedule a brief meeting to find out from
each participant what went well – and what could have gone
better. You’ll see the situation from multiple viewpoints, and
you’ll also see first-hand who on your team is growing in their
ability to handle success and defeat.
When you apply the lesson of the trees, you’ll emerge from the
storms of life intact!