I came across an interesting article, where a Major in the US Army strongly advocates to have more gardener-leaders in the Army. Why does he think so? Some quotes from the article “Gardener-Leaders: A new paradigm for developing adaptive, creative and humble leaders”:
- Leaders who think like gardeners are better equipped to adapt, reason creatively, and approach challenges with humility than those who think like model airplane builders. Unfortunately, many leaders in the military prefer fabricating P-51 Mustangs to nursing tomatoes.
- Gardeners do not possess complete control. Their craft is an interchange where action and counteraction are affected by a host of things beyond their control. Gardeners anticipate, wait, and watch for change. They separate the Addition of pesticide from rain and see if it holds. They add fertilizer, but not too much. The gardener is the student, never the master. This is the type of leader the Army should cultivate.
- Transitioning the Army from producing “model airplane builders” to “gardener leaders” requires culture change. However, simply talking about cultural change does not change it. Nor will the suggestions of this article alone change the culture. Ultimately, the Army must change “the test” it uses to recruit, retain, and promote its leaders. By first identifying the “gardener” as the type of leader it wants to cultivate, the Army can adapt ist processes and incentives to increase the number of adaptive, creative, and humble leaders within its ranks
The author of the article, Major Joseph Bruhl, is a strategic planner in irregular warfare and security force assistance at the Army’s Security Cooperation Plans and Concepts Division. He holds a B.A. from Truman State University and an M.P.A. from Harvard. He is a Next Generation National Security Leader Fellow at the Center for New American Security and lives in Arlington, VA.