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Sowing Seeds for Thriving Organizational Growth: Leadership Lessons from the Garden

By Sherri McLeroy | June 18, 2024
Sowing Seeds for Thriving Organizational Growth: Leadership Lessons from the Garden

As an educational leader with more than 30 years of experience, I’ve been immersed in countless impactful moments that have left an indelible mark on me. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the remarkable transformations orchestrated by teams of school leaders. Together, we’ve embarked on journeys to revitalize struggling educational institutions and uplift disheartened and poverty ridden students, guiding them towards life-changing achievements.

And when I think about the most worthwhile pursuits of any leader, I think of how much effective leadership is like tending to a garden. You might be wondering what those two things have in common at all, but if you’ve spent any time working the land, you know exactly what I mean. The parallels between cultivating leadership and nurturing a garden are profound. Both require patience, dedication, and a deep understanding of the process of growth. Just as a gardener carefully tends to each plant, leaders must nurture their teams and initiatives, providing the support and guidance necessary for them to flourish. In both endeavors, the ultimate goal is to create an environment conducive to growth, where seeds of potential can blossom into extraordinary achievements.


Each year when I plant my garden, I have great faith that the seeds I have planted will take root and grow. I envision the results as I nurture and care for the seeds. Before I plant, I carefully choose the seeds I want to grow. Strategically, I map out a plan of where each seed will be placed for best vegetable production. My husband and I collaborate on this part of the planning. After that, he and I begin preparing the soil for the various seeds to take root.

As you embark on this journey of organizational growth, it’s essential to envision the future you wish to create for your team. Picture a thriving and flourishing organization where every member is empowered and inspired to contribute their best. This vision will serve as your compass as you navigate through the challenges and opportunities that come your way.

Are there seeds you should be planting now to help your people get from where they are to where you want to lead them?


After planting the seeds, I eagerly watch as tiny sprouts begin to emerge from the soil. Each day, I stroll through my garden to see if any of the plants need care or attention. As I walk through the garden, I pull a weed here or there, water the plants if they look thirsty or dry, and support plants that are tipping over or drooping a bit. If I neglect the seeds I plant, weeds will grow, pests will invade, and I will not reap the harvest I desire. Conversely, if I fertilize the soil, water the seeds and plants, keep the weeds down and prune periodically, I reap an abundant harvest.

As in the garden, preparing for growth in the workplace is a delicate dance between tending to the needs of each individual and fostering an environment where they can thrive. It’s a daily practice of observation and care. Communication is key. Keep your team informed about the progress, celebrate their achievements, and provide support where needed. Just like tending to a garden, nurture your team by offering guidance, resources, and encouragement. Address any issues promptly to prevent negativity from taking root and hindering growth.

Are you eagerly looking for small sprouts of growth toward your desired results?  Does anything need your attention?


Throughout the season, my husband and I work together to tend to the garden, weeding out any unwanted plants and protecting our crops from pests. We celebrate small victories, like the first ripe tomato or the perfect ear of corn. Our garden becomes not just a source of food, but a place of connection and shared memories. As the summer days turn into autumn, we enjoy the bountiful harvest that our hard work has produced. We gather vegetables for meals, preserve extras for the winter months, and share our abundance with friends and neighbors.

In gardening and in leadership growth, the fruits of your labor are meant to be shared. When you achieve success, celebrate together, and extend your generosity to others. By fostering a culture of growth, collaboration, and appreciation, you will cultivate a workplace where everyone can thrive and contribute to a bountiful harvest of success.

How do you celebrate your organization’s successes and share the stories of transformation?  Do you build in time to celebrate individual and collective growth?

Each year, as I reflect on the journey from seed to harvest, I am filled with gratitude for the abundance that our garden provides and the lessons it teaches me about organizational growth and leadership development. It is a reminder that with faith, care, and effort, beautiful things can take root and flourish in our lives.

Leadership development is not accidental; it’s strategic. It’s not automatic; it’s intentional. And your growth will impact others.

Whether you’re working from a corner office or a kitchen table, leading a congregation or a classroom, measuring results in percentages or personal progress, we are all fueled by a desire to do better for ourselves and those around us. We’ve created an event to be the spark that ignites that desire into action. Join Maxwell Leadership for Day to Grow, a full-day conference in Orlando, Florida, featuring some of today’s most sought-after experts and thought leaders, including author Malcolm Gladwell, Olympian Chaunté Lowe, and of course, John C. Maxwell.

Sherri McLeroy is an educational leader of a dynamic team of individuals who are changing the world one life at a time. She has been an educator for over 30 years in both public and private educational settings. In addition to being a champion for educational, institutional and leadership causes, she is passionate about creating engaging experiences and adventures. One of her greatest leadership accomplishments includes helping to transform a failing school into a nationally recognized 90-90-90 school. Members of her workplace call her the “queen of fun” because she consistently implements strategic, interactive strategies to make the workplace, organizations and classrooms engaging and fun! Her greatest desire is to use her influence to propel others forward in their growth. She is a Maxwell Certified speaker, trainer and coach who loves to bring a fresh burst of motivation and engagement to teams and organizations.

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