A Short Leadership Lesson from Nature


Fall gives way to winter.

The trees aren’t upset for having lost their leaves.

Sending them off in a blaze of glory.

Winter begins a new journey.

The birds don’t complain about the trip.

Soaring away with a song.

Nature has much to teach us about leadership.

Good days give way to difficulty.

Relationships thrive and break.

Change is the nature of things.

The power of nature is to adapt.

Leadership is the practice of effective adaptation.

Effective adaptation is achieved through awareness, responsiveness, preparedness and assuredness.

Awareness is the practice of noticing.

Focused attention.

Seeing the trends.

Sensing the shift.

Accepting reality.

Responsiveness is the practice of balance.

Channeling energy.

Centered but not attached.

Opening to change.

Poised to act.

Preparedness is the practice of learning.

Observing with curiosity.

Seeking to understand.

Challenging assumptions.

Planning for possibilities.

Assuredness is the practice of composure.

Calm under pressure.

Alert but not agitated.

Grounded in intention.

Confident in ability.

As I watched the last of the red and yellow leaves falling from the trees this morning I thought,

“This is the world in which we live, lead and work.


Always evolving.

Why fight it?

Adaptation can be beautiful.”

Nature teaches us that if we are willing to live in harmony with how the world operates and let go of our expectations, judgment, fear and resistance we can learn to thrive and be a source of strength for others.


  1. Fitting for the time of year and appropriate as new strategic plans are communicated and implemented soon for the upcoming new year.

    Thanks for your thoughts on leadership and the allegories that often times accompany them.



    1. Thank you, Michael – yes this is the time of year that we enter the season of strategic planning. I wonder though, does the approach that many companies use provide the necessary level of adaptability? I suppose even in nature the process can take time but nature has also taught us that when it takes too long the outcome usually isn’t very pleasant.


  2. Funny how change, the most natural thing in the natural world, is so challenging for us. It’s something I struggle with, especially during unexpected, large life changes. But I am learning, like nature, to stop struggling against it and work with it. I’m returning to MY nature, accepting it as it is and moving on. Oh, though, to be like the birds who don’t complain about the long flight south, or the trees who accepting relinquish their leaves!


    1. Thank you Lori – I know how you feel, I think we all struggle in this area. That’s probably why nature sent me that little message in the morning. Just a gentle reminder. 🙂


  3. I think human nature is to seek the constant, so as long as we can, we want to preserve the now. But your article points out that this is not reality. We have to practice going with the flow of change in order to become more comfortable with the norm.


    1. Well said, Jim. Putting ourselves in an adversarial relationship with nature (reality) usually ends in frustration at minimum. Accepting and adapting is the path to freedom.


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