Our offices are close to our home, so we get the benefit of accessing open space during lunch breaks – or whenever we need thinking time. This week, a local landscaper has been clearing the stream and pond at the bottom of our paddock. The amount of sludge and weed they’ve lifted is spectacular. And working in the pouring rain was not fun, apparently. But I’m doubly grateful to the hard-working team. They’ve given me the perfect analogy for getting focused on leadership priorities.
Let’s start with the planning. The stream is a priority because we live and work on a flood plain. Work done now will protect us for the next 5-10 years.
Bad news, however. We have an electricity pylon located in one corner of the property which serves the whole village. It crosses the stream underground – so locating its exact position was vital. Health and safety is paramount of course. And our neighbours wouldn’t have thanked us for plunging them into darkness either.
What’s the potentially explosive situation that you need to locate in your world?
Then there’s laying down the planks. The workmen wanted to protect as much of the current landscaping and planting as possible. To get in, do the work and let the ground spring back to life quickly. The planks also prevented the digger from sliding around on the mud.
The digging itself was spectacular. Lifting out silt, water and weeds in one scoop, the mud was laid at the side of the stream to allow the wildlife to hop back in to the water.
It was also very motivating to see people working as a team and having a smooth process: digging, tipping into a mini dumper truck, spreading on the field and cleaning up behind them.
Of course, I was watching them working. When the rain was at its worst, they were definitely not in the best of spirits.
How do support your people when things just aren’t going well?
Yes, we’ve got mud and weeds spread over a wide area. And stray weeds in the stream. And some very organic smells. But we can see the difference immediately – and it’s not going to take much to get it looking 100%. The water is already flowing much more freely. We can see the bottom of the stream through clear water. The pond is less choked with weeds – yet still with space for the ducks to hide in.
What benefits will greater clarity and focus give you?
Having the mud-clearing analogy has helped me this week in prioritising a couple of practical details with our team. It’s also helped me value the work-life balance that we’ve worked hard to achieve over the last few years. I like seeing a direct connection between the work I put in and the results coming out.
We’ve just pulled together a report turning 6 months worth of complex data into graphs and statistics. By clearing through the weeds, we quickly had team members commenting on what they see. There’s a satisfaction in that kind of focused delivery, clearing the weeds and seeing results from focusing on leadership priorities.