Lawns and Leadership



While I was gone on vacation, my lawn went through a metamorphosis. What had been a decently manicured carpet of green grass (OK, maybe “manicured” is overstating it a bit. So is “carpet” and “green”, but stay with me) had become a tangled mess of weeds, foot-high shoots of grass, and brown patches.

I had my work cut out for me.

As I fired up the lawnmower, it occurred to me that mowing is like leadership. When either isn’t done right – or at all – chaos ensues.

You don’t mow and the weeds see an opportunity to thrive. In a leadership vacuum, the bad apples in a command see an opportunity too. In both cases it takes drastic action to get things under control again.


If you keep up with your mowing (in my case this is theoretical), it doesn’t take much to keep the lawn looking good. Same with leadership. When it is done right and applied consistently, a command runs smoothly and responds quickly to the small tweaks necessary to keep things on track.

Water nurtures a growing lawn. It is necessary and vital to its survival. So is good leadership. When applied in the right amount, an organization becomes energized and productive.


There was also dog doodie in the yard (because I have a dog and she enjoys watching me clean up her mess). As I was scooping it up, I tried to think of a metaphor that applied to leadership. After several “close encounters” it hit me.

Sometimes you have to put up with (doodie), and every once in a while you have to get your hands dirty.

Especially if there is a hole in the plastic bag.


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  1. Another lawn to leadership analogy: The best way to get rid of weeds is to grow a strong full lawn. It takes a little weeding but the grass will choke out a majority of the weeds and not permit them room to grow. Likewise, focus on growing the good attitudes on your team and eventually there will be little to no room for the bad attitudes, and only a little weeding needed.

  2. Howdy! I have a comment about the doodie comment. Confuseious (yep meant to spell it that way) says: Man who do not check baggie when in the doodie mode have strange aroma about him!

    I have Great Danes, they tend to drop land mines. I’m calling in the Marines!

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