• Dr Chan Abraham

Leadership and Gardening


Leaders may not make the best gardeners, but the best leaders understand the similarity between gardening and their leadership.

"In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must also tend his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the result. Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed”

Nelson Mandela The Long Walk to Freedom

Nelson Mandela's words ring out truths that are as established as the principles of planting and growing to which he refers.

While it is certainly possible to expand the gardening metaphor, and to glean numerous insights about leadership and, indeed, life, Mandela's observations here offer ten similarities worth noting.

  1. Tend

  2. Plant

  3. Watch

  4. Cultivate

  5. Harvest

  6. Take responsibility

  7. Mind your work

  8. Resist attacks

  9. Preserve where possible

  10. Remove where necessary

Establishing and cultivating a garden is not a day's work. It is not an activity to be hurried. It is certainly something that requires time, effort and personal investment. It can produce considerable joy and fulfiment for the gardener, and great benefits for others.

We can reflect upon, expand and apply these principles to the way we approach our own leadership. Just as they work well in a garden, they are sure to produce good results for us and those we seek to serve through our leadership.

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