I take an acorn. I plant it. I plant it in ideal conditions, soil that has a perfect texture for good drainage, balanced PH, and the correct nutrients. I plant it in a favorable climate, dry summers and wet winters. I plant it with enough room around it so it can spread its branches without running into power lines above or hidden utilities below. But it will not be entirely protected; it will be tested by fierce wind and weather as it is given time to grow and mature. I have given all that I possibly can to create the conditions for success, what would be our expectation for that acorn? The answer, no big surprise, is that it would likely grow to its full mighty oak potential; it would be big, strong, and producing more acorns for the future of the species.
Now, change the word acorn to employee. The proper soil and climate becomes the right job and environment that matches his or her skills and talents. I give this employee a job that inspires, challenges, and motivates them. I provide them clear and forward-thinking leadership; giving them a vision of our organization that addresses their concerns both professional and personal. I assign tasks that are continually stretching their creativity, resourcefulness, and abilities – and have them watch out for those power lines as they spread their branches. I make sure I compensate them fairly, letting them share in the spoils of all of their hard work. When they have bad days I am there to support them, to listen to them, to help them grow as people. I do all I can to focus on their well-being and development as a human and as an employee.
What would happen to that employee? The answer, like that for the acorn, would be that they grow to their potential. They would help the organization grow to its potential, weathering the storms of business life with creativity, hard work, and loyalty. Now imagine if leaders strove to do this with all of the employees on their teams. What kind of organizations could we create?