Get on the Ladder!


Gardening, like leading change, is hard work. If you’re not bending over to till the soil and remove stones, you’re on your knees caring for seedlings or removing weeds.

From this position, it’s really easy to lose sight of the big picture.

That’s why a key change leadership action involves getting on the ladder!

This will allow you to (re)gain perspective. You might notice things that were not visible to you before. And you may become aware of patterns that could affect the work you are trying to lead.

Leading like a gardener is an active role. And this requires regularly moving back and forth between being “in the weeds” and “on the ladder.”

When you are on ground level, you are able to observe the details of what is taking place. You can observe the quality of the ongoing activity, you can spot any lurking pests.

And when you are on the ladder, you can scan around. You are able to see what is happening nearby that might affect your own work. You can also notice when things are deviating from the plan and assess what responses might be warranted. Being at the elevated height of the ladder also allows certain actions that can’t be done on the ground, such as introducing reinforcements for additional stability.

The important thing as a leader is to remember to move between these two positions. Both are essential for success in the work of change.



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