How is Leadership Like a Coconut Tree?
Happy New Year!
I hope and pray that this year brings you lots of good health and great happiness. I took a hiatus for a couple of weeks, but now back at it!
I wanted to share this video where I explain (to a crowd) how the coconut tree is a great metaphor for leadership. You can watch the video (only 5 minutes) or read the text. The video is better!
In August (2019), I went to Kenya to see my family and we spent a week at the beach. There I met Kazungu, the coconut man.
Every day he’d come by and sell us coconut water and wait until we were done so he could scrap out the white succulent coconut meat – my fav part. Over the week, he taught me about coconut trees and I realized the coconut tree is a great metaphor about being a resilient leader.
I noticed that each time the tide came in, the winds increased and the trees would sway back and forth. I asked Kazungu if the roots went really deep.
He replied, “The roots are not deep at all, but very thin and create a fibrous system that go far and wide and it is this that gives the tree its stability.”
I then said, “But Kazungu, these trees are 80-90 feet tall and their trunks are so skinny. Don’t they snap during windy days?”
He explained that as the tree grows, it’s shaped by its surroundings and adapts and even though the trunk is skinny, that’s not a sign a weakness, it’s a sign of strength because the trunk is so flexible and it doesn’t snap easily.
Finally, I asked him, “How long does it take for the coconut fruit to grow and mature?’
He replied, “For sweet water and lots of white meat – the way you like it mama, about 12-14 months.”
Resilient leaders are like the roots. Instead of succumbing to chaos or conflict, they provide stability and growth for their team and organization.
Resilient leaders are like the trunk. They understand that it’s imperative to adapt to their surroundings and stay flexible, but yet be authentic and vulnerable because it enables others to be better leaders.
Resilient leaders are patient like the coconut fruit. When they implement an idea or vision, they know it can take a while and they will have to keep tweaking until its successful because they reframe failure as feedback.
How are you going to lead in 2020?