By Michael Holland –

Recently we had a large tree fall in woods behind our house. It’s huge and I wondered how could this tree fall when others around it were fine.

Some leaders are like strong trees with deep healthy root systems. They had nutrient rich soils that helped promote growth. They had their fair amount of wind which made them even stronger.

But many leaders aren’t so lucky. They get planted into leadership quickly in whatever soil exists. They survive but never mature to the level they are capable of.

Here are ways to build the healthy root systems for your young leaders.

Get Them Trained Up

Send them to a people leadership development program within the first 6 months in the role or at the latest, within the first 15 months.

Trees that start in healthy soil are more likely to build deep, healthy root systems from the start and not be harmed by decay.

Surround Them

Include them in a leadership circle of several leaders who meet to talk about current leadership challenges they are facing and discuss leadership ideas and resources they’ve been consuming.

Trees work together as the winds ebb and flow. A tree all alone will need to take on the full brunt of all the wind that comes its way.

Prune Them

Put your leaders through some type of self-reflection process after 12 1o 18 months in the role. Most often a validated 360-degree feedback survey can provide the data for a leader to reflect on how stakeholders perceive their impact and provide direction on where best to invest their time in honing their leadership skills while removing those that aren’t healthy.

Taking less fruitful limbs off of a tree will help the tree allocate its limited nutrients to the remainder of the limbs making them stronger.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • If you were a tree, what variety would you want to be? Why?
  • Have you had the opportunity to attend a leadership development program and/or participate in a leadership circle? What did you learn?
  • What might you learn about your leadership impact from stakeholders in a 360-degree feedback survey?