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My Backyard and Your Leadership

For the past 20 years, I have traveled almost weekly to work with outstanding clients across the globe. When I arrive home, I spend hours in my backyard, weeding, mowing, pruning, and gardening. My wife, on multiple occasions, has asked “Why don’t you hire someone to do that stuff so you can relax when you are home?” I refuse.

I really enjoy what I do professionally, and when I deliver a keynote of Leading Safety or finish a workshop with a group of supervisors helping them more effectively deliver results through others, there is not a stack of tangible products to reflect the work I have completed. I head back to the airport only knowing that I have done ‘good’ work. My backyard gives me that feedback when I sit down in the evening and enjoy what I have created.

Getting feedback on your leadership impact is one of the hardest parts of being a leader. You don’t always have immediate, tangible results. From a leadership perspective, we struggle to find that daily affirmation (i.e. quantity) to tell us that we are succeeding. So here are three ways to find that immediate feedback of being an effective leader.

Listen for what they need from you:

My fruit trees don’t care what my quota is for fruit production each year. Yelling at them doesn’t help, ignoring them is even worse. What does help is spending time ‘listening’ to them, looking at their growth and their health. Based on those observations, I can provide them what they need. To deliver results through others, you must understand and deliver what the team member needs, not just what you want. For feedback, measure how often you use listening checks to confirm your understanding and demonstrate that you really care.

Look for the little changes:

In the yard, a new bud or healthier leaves are small signs that the plant is getting what it needs. Too often, in business, we get stuck trying to chase a number. Chasing a number leads to unintended consequences and, often, a conflict with the organizational values. Small changes in behavior can have a big impact on results. For feedback, count the times you recognize and reward the small changes in others that will help them deliver the desired results.

Measure what you do make:

One of my favorite questions to ask organizational leaders is “What do you make?” For my backyard, I have a vision, a feel, as to what I want from the yard. Everything I work on in the yard is consistent with that vision. What a leader makes is the culture; the way things are done. What is the culture you must create to deliver results? For feedback, take an inventory of the culture and the impact that culture is having on the organization.

About Rodney Grieve:

As the founder of BRANTA Worldwide, Rodney brings more than a two-decades of hands-on leadership development and health and safety experience to his clients around the world. A nationally recognized speaker, facilitator, and author (Defend Your Profits: Safety Tools for Bottom Line Improvement and SOAR: A Gate to Gate Journey of Leadership Essentials), Rodney personally conducts BRANTA’s Safety Leadership Development workshops and mentoring programs. For more information, please contact Rodney directly at or visit our website at

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