Topiary [ˈtōpēˌerē]: the practice or art of training, shaping, and trimming trees, plants or shrubs into decorative shapes, as of animals.
Leadership: leadership is the art of motivating an individual, groups of people or entire organizations to work towards achieving a common goal.
So what do topiary and topiary gardens have to do with leadership and organizations? EVERYTHING! Creating and sustaining a healthy vibrant organization means dedication and intentional leadership, no different than the gardeners within a topiary garden. First, a leader must create a shared vision and articulate it effectively to help the employees bring that vision to life.
It was during Roman times that innovative gardeners first introduced topiary to the world. It was then that gardeners took a step back and started looking and seeing trees differently. They recognized that each plant could be trained and utilized in a different capacity and even become depended on other species to co-create an intertwined approach to growth. Each tree becomes a system and each system is dependent on each other to grow and flourish within that specific environment. With a clear vision, patience, persistence and the right conditions, topiary gardeners are able to influence the trees and gardens to become living breathing sculptures of art.
Whether starting a new company or simply trying to re-energize and enhance your current organization, topiary and leadership have a lot in common.
Need strong roots and a solid foundation to grow and be successful.
Need special conditions and attention to thrive during seasonal changes or economic fluctuation.
Need systematic approach with growth to expand in a healthy sustainable manner.
Can become anything imaginable with the right plan in place.
Need to understand the environment in which the roots need to grow
Recognize that any change to the system will have consequences and unintended consequences (positive/negative).
Create energy within the system to influence change
Topiary can be broken down into 3 different categories: old topiary, new topiary and art topiary. Old topiary consists of existing historical creations which modern designs may either copy or be based upon. New topiary expands the use of the art form and places it in containers, bringing it indoors or the material itself and becomes a free-form sculpturing of plant material. Art topiary is very often concerned with decoration and floral art rather than just the integration of shaped plant material into the garden itself.
Similarly, leadership is often broken down into three styles: transformational, transactional and laissez-faire. Transformational leadership is where the leader collaborates with employees to identify the needed change, creates a vision to guide the change through inspiration with accountability, and executes the change in tandem with committed members of the group. Transitional leadership is based on setting clear goals and objectives for employees as well as the use of rewards or consequences in order to achieve the desired collective results. Lastly, laissez-faire leadership is mostly a hands-off with minimal guidance and allows employees to make critical decisions that impact the company.
In both contexts it can be said that leaders within an organization or topiary garden need to understand the environmental and internal conditions before choosing an approach or style that works best and will provide the most return on investment.
Topiary Consulting can help your orgnaization in the following ways: