Fall, and leaves in their full glory of color, always makes me aware of the seasons of life and leadership. Fall is the time of harvest. The key natural law of harvest is that you reap what you sow. A farmer does not wonder in the fall what he will harvest. He knows that if he planted soybeans, he will be harvesting soybeans. He reaps in the fall, what he has sown in the spring.

This same natural law of the harvest is true in servant leadership as well. I often hear leaders lament about why things are happening to them. They say:

  • Why doesn’t my team trust me?
  • Why is my turnover so high?
  • Why is revenue shrinking?
  • Why is our company not so fun to work at anymore?

Leaders typically fall into these situations because they focus on urgent vs. important activities. Admittedly, leadership is a hectic job, and there is always a problem staring you down. Times are changing, but one truth about life and leadership will never change– you reap what you sow for better or for worse.

I always remember when my executive coach asked if I might consider re-allocating my time. He felt I should shift my emphasis from the day-to-day activities and financial statements, to culture and people. His suggestion was to spend 75% of my time on building the culture and developing leaders.

My coach’s boss, Ken Blanchard was often heard saying, “Good financial performance will be the applause for doing the right things on culture and people”. In other words, you will reap what you sow!

Servant leaders sow by:

If you are intentional about sowing these actions of servant leadership you can expect the following harvest in the fall:

  • A purpose-driven, values-based organization
  • A highly engaged and passionate team
  • A fun environment
  • Close, trusting relationships
  • High performing teams
  • Depth of leadership
  • Consistently improving financial and performance metrics

Just like when planting crops, after sowing seeds it takes time to see results. Don’t expect things to improve overnight. Continue to sow the right things, nurture them, and then fully expect a big harvest in the fall! It is my favorite time of the year!!

Mark Deterding

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:7-9