Kernel to Ear

My colleague, Holly Moore, and I rediscovered an important leadership principle this year, without even trying. You might call it the “Kernel to Ear” principle.

In the same way a kernel of corn is planted in the ground and when it is eventually harvested, it becomes several ears of corn—certain acts a leader performs on behalf of their teams can produce a stunning ROI (return on investment). Over the last few months, our Growing Leaders team has worked extra hard on projects, ranging from hosting our National Leadership Forum, to an all-day Board Planning Day, to our Coaches Connection. Holly and I were proud of their efforts and wanted to somehow say thanks. We ended up taking them to the Chick Fil A LeaderCast in May. Then, one Friday afternoon in July, we closed our office early, and took our team to the movies. In August, we took our team out to lunch with Jeremy Affeldt (pitcher for the San Francisco Giants) then to the Braves vs. Giants game that night.

Our team took extra care to thank us, with notes and emails. But more so, I have seen them invest themselves in their work. The little gift of a game, a movie or a conference paid great dividends; the kernel has become an ear of corn. Just a little time spent on relationship has turned into incredible results. The truth is, small investments can become big harvests, if they fit the people you’re targeting.

At Growing Leaders, we didn’t treat our team to the game, or the movie or the conference just to get something back. But like the tide coming in on a beach, it sure did come back to us in force. I’d say a hundred-fold. Here’s to leaders discovering how to multiply the fruit borne by their team.

As you consider your own leadership, what kernels could you plant in the people around you, which could produce a great return?


Kernel to Ear