top of page

Leadership Lessons from Watering the Lawn

We have a rather small front yard with a huge maple tree. The good news is that the tree provides great shade during the summer. The bad news is that it shields much of the lawn from the sun. Additionally, we are also blessed to have an underground irrigation sprinkler system to help with the front yard. Our backyard, however, does not have underground sprinklers, so we use an above-ground sprinkler and water deeply once a week unless there is some good rain. Fortunately, the weekly watering works well enough for our preferences.

In previous years, when it would rain an inch or more, we would frequently set the sprinkler system to skip a day and then resume the cycle. We have since deduced that the massive tree consumes or detours much of the rainwater from the grass and that skipping sprinkler days after a rain, thinking the lawn was getting enough water, has led to skimpier grass. This year, I did not reduce the sprinkler frequency unless we got several inches of rainfall. As a result, the front lawn had the best appearance ever in all the years since we’ve lived in this house.

My point is that my yard will look better if I pay attention to it and water it consistently.

How does watering my lawn relate to job performance? I am so glad you asked!

You’ve probably heard the phrase, people do not leave jobs; they leave the people they work for. If many subordinates have left the company where you work, consider whether some, if not all, of the “blame” lies with the person in the mirror. I am not intentionally trying to offend anyone, but if you have lived this situation, I do suspect that I have gotten your attention. Let’s consider why a person would leave a job:

  1. They never really like the job anyway.

  2. If this is true, then we can expect that the hiring personnel made a bad selection in matching person/skills/interests with those required to do the job?

  3. If it is false, the person left because of the manager.

  4. They never performed well, probably not even before they worked for you.

  5. If this is true, then the departure is long overdue and the hiring personnel made a bad selection in matching person/skills/interests with those required to do the job.

  6. If this is false, then they are leaving because of the manager.

  7. They found a better and more rewarding job.

  8. Really? This potentially demonstrates leadership error.

  9. If this is true, does this person value money significantly more than the job and the related challenges?

  10. If this is true, is the person being developed and equipped to do the absolute best that is possible to stay with the company for as long as both truly desire?

  11. If this is false, then the person left because of the manager.

In each case, the fault may lie more with the leadership than with the person hired. I am not saying a person can’t put on a good show to get a job. Certainly, this happens—I’ve seen it. However, being a leader means that it is our responsibility to continue equipping and growing the people we lead. Are you “watering” as needed and thinking that the regular meetings and conversations are adequate to producing the award-winning functional team you desire? Or are you “watering” consistently with the goal of pouring into the people to help them become all that they were designed to become?

The point is that our office “yard” will look better if the leader pays attention to it and “waters” it consistently for growth.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this watering process worked for other things? Like washing my hair should produce thicker hair> Probably not the same thing… Nevertheless, water the grass and take care to keep your high potential employees!

13 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page