Saturday, March 24, 2007

His Leadership Sucks! Or Does it?

Gardening shows may not be your cup of tea, but in Europe, they are very popular. Unfortunately, I don’t have a garden. Actually, I don’t have a yard. However, since I moved to Germany, I have developed a real taste for these shows. One of my favorite gardeners is Diarmuid [sounds like Der-Mid] Gavin. The funny thing is, I don’t particularly like the gardens he builds. At least, if I had a yard, I wouldn’t hire him to build my garden.

So, why is he my favorite gardener?


Because he operates from a worldview that is bigger than the work that he does. Put another way, his work, his gardens are an expression of this worldview.

I realized this when I was watching the following scene:

[Diarmuid is talking to a team leader doing some complicated metalwork. They are walking along a stretch of the metalwork that curves around the garden.]

Diarmuid Gavin: That’s really good metalwork.

[The team leader says it would have been more practical to take a direct approach with the work.]

[Diarmuid explains why he likes the work and how it fit’s into the garden’s design and his worldview of gardening.]

DG: I’ll tell you why I spelled that out for you.

Team Leader: Why?

DG: Because you can be stupid, sometimes about that… [Long Pause] No! No! Not stupid… You can be far too practical for your own good… and it stops you doing things… In your own life.

[Later in the show, they have completed the garden and Diarmuid is sitting in the back of the garden talking to the camera about the metalwork.]

DG: Madness is good. Madness is always good to have. It is always good to challenge and to examine our perceptions, and to challenge people’s perceptions of what a garden is.

[Fade to credits]

You may not like his work or how he deals with his people, but you cannot deny that he has a worldview and a focus that is bigger than gardening. Even when people don’t like what he does, they continue to follow him. Here is why.

You can apply Diarmuid’s worldview to more-conventional gardens. His work is an exaggerated caricature of his worldview. As Diarmuid works thought the design, build and presentation of this caricature, you develop an understanding of how he approaches a gardening challenge; his approach becomes part of your approach.

In short, Diarmuid, like all leaders, is a risk mitigator. By following him and incorporating his worldview into their world, the gardening challenged are able to achieve a higher level of gardening success. Where Diarmuid succeeds, they can succeed.

As I stated in Its Not Magic, enabling organizational success is the sole purpose of all leaders.  Simply put, Diarmuid achieves that objective.

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