Hey Leader! Are You An Effective Shield?

"Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who make a difference" - Nolan Bushnell

The Polar Vortex swept out and in it's wake the warmer weather returned. Of course,"warmer" is a relative term in the colder areas of the country! For me, 33 degrees was a heat wave! Consequently, a lot of areas of the country have experienced flooding as ice thawed and the snow was replaced by rain. Quick mobilization was needed in the form of barriers and evacuations. Again, Mother Nature reminded us of who was in charge. While Mother Nature threw many of us for a loop this winter, she also provides natural barriers to protect us.  When the water or wind raises hell there are trees and plants that actually protect everything within their environment.

Erosion advantaged trees and shrubs have strong, deep, and thick fibrous roots. Often their roots grow very deep and act like sponges. The roots grow fast and quickly fill up soil space. Moreover, many of these trees grow huge canopies that prevent rains from eroding the soil. In short, they are element shields. They hold soil in place while preventing pollution. In areas where these "shields" are in place, the elements have a challenge ahead in afflicting extreme damage. Ehow Soil Erosion

Here are some of Mother Nature's shields to prevent erosion:
  1. Fir
  2. Cascara (Cascara Buckthorn)
  3. Big Leaf Maple
  4. Western Red Cedar
  5. Pine
  6. Willow
  7. Read Alder
  8. Cottonwood
  9. Dogwood
  1. Juniper
  2. Gooseberries
  3. Currents
  4. Willows
Ground covers:
  1. Creeping Phlox
  2. Vinca
  3. English Ivy
  4. Crown Vetch
  5. Ornamental grasses

 In short, if you are in an area where erosion tends to be an issue search for plants in your climate that will hold the soil. Often these plants or trees are those that your average gardener hates because their roots clog up the soil and make it unworkable. That's what makes these species so erosion successful. So while Mother Nature challenges us, she shields us as well!

You may be asking yourself  at this point what erosion has to do with leadership......
Simple. Effective leaders "shield" their people to help them succeed 
Your top focus should be protecting your people from outside interference that impacts the team's effectiveness, progress, and innovative output. It's inevitable that you will need to jump in to deflect the heat both internally and externally to keep your people focused, empowered, and creative. Great leaders place themselves right in the path of danger for the sake of their people.
Dangers great leaders shield against:

  1. Company politics - Group resources such as money, talent, and materials need protecting.
  2. Rotten apples - Keep the negative and naysayers away.
  3. Work loads - Manage wisely and effectively.
  4. Budgets - Keep the team focused and YOU manage the budget, not your people.
  5. Time wasters
  6. Manage the group's reputation - Don't let someone do it for you. Be their mouthpiece and key public supporter.
  7. Orchestrate constructive battles between creatives before they do. Keep them challenged and the ideas flowing in a positive manner.
  8. Keep strategy concise, clear, and visible. Hold nothing back, yet remain protective from outside strategies.
  9. Control resources - They must remain top quality, relevant, and available.
  10. Systems check - Review work flow and systems for inefficiencies and new opportunities.
  11. Communicate and give constant feedback. Let the team hear information from you - not the "outside".
  12. Be willing to stand up for what's right and protect your employees. Be prepared to put your job and reputation on the line for critical events.
Being a leader isn't all fluff and show. It's about being authentic, empathetic, empowering, and yes, putting yourself in the path of danger. You need to do what is right for your people, not what looks good for you.
What are you willing to shield your people from? Are you up to the task?

Photo Courtesy of Wazimuo via Compfight