Lead Like a Gardener

What does growth in an organization look like?

It isn’t unusual to imagine this as a never-ending upward trajectory, like a rocket fired into space. You quickly realize though, that this isn’t realistic or sustainable. Once the initial momentum fizzles out, things can quickly go off course. Or even come to a grinding halt.

Searching for a more realistic metaphor, I found inspiration in a rather surprising place.


Close your eyes for a moment, and picture a flourishing garden. One that is bursting with life: vibrant flowers, lush green plants and trees. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?

This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes considerable planning and ongoing effort, with a long-term goal in mind.

This is the lens through which we consider an organization’s growth, and describe the three phases in the Seasons of Growth™ framework.


This step lays the foundation for growth. It is when, like a gardener, you assess the landscape of your organization and make a plan. You study the layout of your garden, the climate, soil and water – what can stay and what needs to go? Cutting corners here can stunt future growth.


Here is when you put your plan into action, sowing and tending to the land. Planting seedlings and saplings, you keep a watchful eye on new initiatives. Would some plants do better in a different location? What is impacting their growth, is it pests? Insufficient water? This tends to be a busy phase for gardeners and leaders, as you test and tweak your plan.


The final step, this is when you enjoy the fruits of your labor! Sitting in the shade of a tree, eating an apple from the garden you created as you contemplate what is next. As seasons change, you may need to step back and prepare for the next cycle of growth.

As you can see, organizational growth doesn’t happen in a straight line. Like a gardener, wise leaders put in the work here and now, while keeping their eye on the prize: sowing the seeds of sustained and impactful growth.


Are you curious to learn more about the RCA Seasons of Growth™ framework?

We’ve written a short article to introduce you to this framework for leading change. You can learn more about the common challenges experienced in each of the three phases, and what leaders can do to move successfully through them.

Download the article right here.

And contact us if you are interested in finding out about our Organizational Assessment tool based on this framework.

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