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In the article on Leading and Weeding, I wrote that leaders need to continually be vigilant about removing the “weeds” in their business or the weeds would take over. This time, I have another gardening metaphor: Leading and Pruning.

Whereas weeding involves getting rid of the entire plant, when you prune, you are usually trying to make the plant healthier and stronger.

You know those little bonsai trees Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid was always pruning? Yeah, like this one. It takes lots of work and care to shape one of those into a beautiful little tree.

The same is true in leadership, both our self leadership and in leading others.

In leading ourselves, we can prune off old, dead parts that are not growing. Conversely, we may need to prune back something that is dominating our personality landscape so a complimentary part can grow.

When we lead others, pruning can be even more difficult as we try to shape others into our organization. And this type of pruning is an even more vital skill which often requires finesse. Note I say often, not always. There are times where you might need to cut something way back to give an opportunity for new growth. I had a lilac bush once that I was supposed to trim back because it was hanging over the porch and and grown above the window. Well, I kept trying to cut a little here, shape a little there and before I knew it, I had cut that thing almost to the ground. It looked horrible. To this day, when I say I am going out to trim the bushes, my wife gets a little nervous. The next spring, however, that lilac came back as strong as before and within a season or two, it was in full bloom again.

People, however, tend to be less like bushes and more like trees. If you cut a tree too far back, it will never grow again. But with that caution, people, just like plants, need to be pruned.

So let’s start pruning, first ourselves, then others.

You’ll be glad you did.

Want some pruning help? Call or email a fellow gardener (I do mean me, of course).


Dr. Jeff


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