Planting Seeds of Greatness @ Work

By Elaine Cercado

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

As a parent, to witness how my son has become the person he is today – a balanced and well-rounded young adult, who’s doing his best to use and share his talents – is a source of true joy. This has become possible through unconditional, selfless, sacrificial kind of love over the years – just like what my parents have done for me.

The kind of love we give as leaders to our people at work is not very different. It’s like parenthood as it’s about growing our fruit into the future. It takes selflessness and sacrifices. In the process, we help develop our people become better at what they do, which helps us become better leaders. It’s a virtuous cycle. 

This kind of love doesn’t necessarily generate instant results. It requires resilience. As the saying goes, fruit is always bitter before it is ripe. In the long run, people will genuinely care when we genuinely care. “Reciprocity without accounting” always works – and it is a source of true joy and fulfilment indeed. 

We are all leaders at work – be it as individual contributor, as people leader or as business leader. As leaders, how can we plant the seeds of greatness?

  • Be nice. Be gentle. Be humble. This doesn’t mean being weak and being stepped on like a rug. Humility doesn’t mean thinking he’s less than others, rather thinking less of himself – to give space to think of others! How can we get better at this? Continuously develop and practice emotional intelligence competencies such as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation and relationship-management.
  • Nurture the “roots and wings” mindset. This kind of mindset stays rooted on values and principles; yet freely grows, spreads wings, explores and flies high and wide. As leaders, encourage taking of risk and allow mistakes and failures in pursuit of dreams, experiences, growth, progress and excellence.
  • Share time to teach and mentor. Carve out time to teach and mentor, to observe, engage in conversation and share experiences and wisdom. To be effective, we have to be open and to listen to diverse perspectives, from different generations and backgrounds. As cliché as it sounds, being fully present is the best gift we can give to another person.

There’s a video of Simon Sinek where he said that building leadership is about consistency – similar to how we fall in love and build a loving relationship. Indeed, that’s how we plant seeds of greatness at work – by nurturing the seeds day by day. And who knows, someday, people may benefit from the shade of a tree planted today!

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. ~Warren Buffet 

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