Leaders can be big trees

The thought-provoking proverb; “Nothing grows well in the shade of a big tree,” (occasionally attributed to Constantin Brancusi) came up in one of our Leadershift workshops the other day and made us think about its relevance in workplace dynamics and leadership.

This concept parallels leadership in the workplace, where established leaders and organisational structures can inadvertently create shade or shadows that hinder the growth of emerging talent and innovative ideas. 

As leaders, it’s crucial to balance the roles of being a ‘big tree’ that offers guidance and stability and a nurturer who fosters an environment where every individual can thrive, sometimes (often?) leaders need to step out of the way to let the sunlight in. 

This necessitates reflection and adaptability in a leader because the shadow of an overpowering leader can stunt creativity, suppress diverse perspectives, and deter risk-taking, ultimately stifling innovation and potential growth.

Organisational growth doesn’t happen in isolation, it’s a collective effort guided by leaders who understand the delicate balance between nurturing and getting out of the way. The proverb “Nothing grows well in the shade of a big tree”serves as a reminder that leaders who recognise and navigate this balance will cultivate a vibrant environment of innovation, engagement, and sustainable growth. Choosing to be a leader and consciously making good leadership choices shapes the growth potential of your organisation. Know when to step out of the way, let the sunlight in, and watch your workplace flourish into a thriving environment for organisational excellence.

Such a big part of leadership development is knowing yourself and how and when you might get in the way while at the same time knowing when to step up and be the much needed shade – invest in your leaders to empower them to develop and adapt their leadership style to what is required.

We are really good at developing leaders and have quite a few different programmes available – let us know if you’d like to explore our options.