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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Leadership Lessons from my Uncle Robert

My Uncle Robert is a quiet, unassuming man. Very practical and a very strong in his beliefs and steadfast in his way. Not one to be trifled with, Uncle Robert is a very fair and focused man. He is one of the four most important men in my life.
He has lived through the great upheavals of the 20th Century; the Great Depression, the Dustbowl, the Internet and yet still conducts his business with determined vision, a steady hand, and great concern for his employees and their production. This has allowed him to maximize the use of his own facilities and his reputation is such that he has the use of the property of others with few questions asked. 
He treats his employees with great care. He sees that they have what they need, are well supplied and that their environment is as good as he can possibly make it. He’s always there to help, coax, and defend them when necessary and values their production no matter how small. Yet he has no tolerance for the unproductive. 
As a young man, I would look forward to the summers when I could work for him. It was truly a rewarding and fun experience. Uncle Robert was a man of patience and timing when it came to his business. Now, understand that Uncle Robert never had more than one or two people working for him at any particular time except during the summers when he would have somewhere around fifteen of us kids, cousins all, scattered across his operation. Yet his employees made him one of the most prosperous men in the community. 
You see, Uncle Robert is a farmer. The employees I write of are not necessarily those individual people but the individual seeds and the individual plants that brought forth individual products.
He knows the proper time to plant and that once planted you have to have patience. You have to wait to see which individuals survive the process. When the first shoots spring forth is only one indication of the process. Some will come up later than others and still others simply will not survive the process. The life of the organization is just not in them.
Those that do survive he cultivates. He sees to their needs. He insures their environment is all that it can be for them to thrive and produce. He keeps track of their production process, makes sure they are well supplied and values each and every little thing they produce. He knows that individual production is the key to the overall harvest. He also know what his return will be, because he knows what he planted; he reaps what he sows. We all do.
Are you cultivating or curtailing? Do you prune or do you prevent? 
If you don’t like what you’re reaping, change what you’re sowing.