A Little Inspiration from the Garden


By Jennifer I. Tougas, Ph.D., CAPP

It’s that time of year when the backyard’s small garden produces more vegetables than we can eat.  I’m sharing tomatoes with colleagues and putting up tomato juice, sharing squash and zucchini with my neighbors and baking zucchini bread, making green bean casseroles, and freezing some for winter.  It’s wonderful and delicious, and the neighbors love it, too!

But it took a lot of work to get to this point in the season.  We prepped the beds all winter, adding fallen leaves and compost to enrich the soil.  We chose where to plant each vegetable to take advantage of light or shade.  We planted flowers to attract the bees and ensure the pollination of our crops.  We put companion plants close together and separated others.  We pulled weeds, trimmed suckers, and pruned wilting or diseased leaves.  We watered and fertilized when needed, and let mother nature take care of the rest.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s work we love, and the reward is priceless.

Leadership, in many ways, is like gardening.  You don’t reach your goals by chance; it requires work and attention.  You begin “prepping the soil” by providing a vision for your team.  You “plant your team” by selecting people for different roles in your organization, pairing those with strengths to complement each other.   You “water and fertilize” by providing training and resources to help them be successful.  You even do a little “weeding” when needed.  It is a lot of work, but it’s work we love and the reward is priceless!

Jennifer I. Tougas, Ph.D., CAPP, is AVP Business Services for Western Kentucky University. She can be reached at Jennifer.tougas@wku.edu.