Leaders: Be fungi instead of trees
By Jacob Espinoza
What does that even mean??
Trees get all the glory. For those of you fortunate enough to spend time wandering through nature, you’ve likely looked up and marveled at how magnificent trees are. Seeing a structure planted that has grown from a seed in the ground to over 200 feet is incredible. This transformation is only possible because of the magic happening beneath the ground.
It’s a process called mycorrhiza. (Follow me for 30 seconds, this is good stuff.)
Fungi and trees have a mutually beneficial relationship. The trees need the fungi to survive, and the fungi need the trees to survive.
- The fungi work beneath the system to:
- provide trees with essential nutrients,
- help trees communicate with each other to exchange water and nutrients,
- and alert them of incoming threats.
In this leadership analogy, you are the fungi and your team is the trees. Both the team and leader fail when a leader doesn’t provide nutrients, assist in communication, and provide guidance with opportunities and threats.
The fruits produced by the team are the result of your action as their leader. These actions often are unnoticed and go on behind the scenes—developing people and improving systems.
- Where fungi provide nutrients, leaders provide development.
- Where fungi help with communication, leaders create systems.
- Where fungi alert of incoming threats, leaders help their teams resolve conflict.
These tasks are challenging for leaders because people are different. Great leaders understand the value of investing time to understand their team so they can provide development and communication that makes an impact and helps the organization to continue to grow.
It is a big deal.
Three questions you should ask yourself if you aren’t getting the results you need:
- What am I doing to invest in the growth of the people on my team?
- What systems do I have in place to ensure we can communicate effectively?
- Am I allowing my team to proactive address obstacles?
If you can’t answer these questions, you know where to start.
Be the fungi!