In Mike Michalowicz’s book, The Pumpkin Plan, he offers a simple strategy for growing a remarkable business in any field. Michalowicz explains that expert pumpkin farmers go through a lengthy process of selecting the absolute best seeds, discarding any that they deem substandard. They then specially incubate and nurture these seeds so that they eventually grow into pumpkins so large some of them weigh about one ton.
For me, the process these farmers endure is particularly relevant when talking about leadership. Good leaders take the time to identify the “good seeds” and then spend time nurturing and developing these individuals into the leaders of the future.
So, how can you grow giant pumpkins in your business? Here are a few tips:
Ensure you’re working in the right climate: It all starts out with your foundation – ensure your pumpkin seeds are planted in the best soil and that the weather in the area is conducive to pumpkin growing. I liken this to developing a solid business culture and instilling these standards and beliefs in your team. If your employees know what you stand for and get behind these ideals, they’re more likely to get behind them.
Survive harsh weather: Often, the best way to be better at something is to be tested. Take the drought in the Western Cape. Farmers have had to scale back and come up with creative ways to improve their processes so that they can get by using less water. It isn’t easy but I believe these challenges teach us so much and help us reach our real potential.
Test new farming techniques: I’m sure that giant pumpkin farmers want their current crop to outdo the crop they harvested the year before and are always looking for new ways to grow bigger pumpkins. They might try out a new fertiliser or put protective nets over their fields. In business, we also need to be open to changing processes up and testing so that we can uncover different ways of doing things.
Remove bad seeds: If you know what you’re doing, you’ll quickly be able to identify when a pumpkin just doesn’t have what it takes. This isn’t an easy one but it’s best to pull that pumpkin out of the ground before it’s too late. Ultimately, bad seeds use up nutrients that should rather be absorbed your other pumpkins. It’s an emotional decision in a business but the reality is that one wrong person can influence everyone else. Be quick to identify when something isn’t working.
Exercise discipline: Being a good leader and being a good businessperson is all about discipline. Achieving business success isn’t an over night thing, it takes time; and usually a lot of it. Growing your business is about planting the seeds in the ground and putting in all the work so that your crop flourishes.
Cultivate the future: Good pumpkin growers need to train the next generation of pumpkin growers so that they can develop the next. In a big business, it simply isn’t viable for a leader to nurture each and every employee, which is why it is so important that they train up and teach others so that they are equipped to support and teach the business values and culture to employees of the future.
I’m passionate about business strategy and leadership and I write about this topic regularly on the Nebula blog. You can access some of this content, here. Many of these posts are featured in the Nebula newsletter, which is sent out to our subscribers each month. Signing up to this newsletter is as simple as completing the form below.