Are You More Concerned about the Weeds or the Wheat?

Shelley SmithBlog, Workplace Culture

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You have a few challenging questions that you’ll need to answer in a minute, but first here’s a quick story that came to mind recently while having a conversation with a client.

“The weeds among the wheat” is a phrase found in Mathew 13: 24-30. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together

There are a few ways to interpret this parable in its entirety, but I choose to interpret this in a positive and “what if” possibilities way.  As leaders and mentors, our success and sustainability comes from our abilities to make the best of what we have, how we have it, and how we develop for the future.  Everyone brings to the table their strengths and weaknesses, “weeds” and “wheat.” Every team has both, too – but it’s how we cultivate the wheat instead of being consumed by removing all the weeds on a daily basis. When we focus on pulling the weeds, we can spend so much time that we run out of “energy” and “focus” on how to nurture the wheat long term. Eventually, with the right focus, the wheat will overcome the weeds and the team as a whole.

I challenge you to take this approach with your succession planning and overall employee development. Focus on your high potentials and those up-and-coming with the right behaviors, making the right fit with the right jobs. Those roots will grow stronger, better, faster and your overall employee engagement will continue to yield strong harvests in the form of productivity.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and those you collaborate with on a daily basis:

  1. Are you more concerned about pulling the “negative” (the “weeds”) and possibly uprooting your core “strengths” (the “wheat”) from your team?
  2. Do you focus more on what is wrong, rather than building on what is right and working in your team?
  3. Do you point out the weaknesses in your employees, or do you give them projects based on their strengths?
  4. Do you try to make your employees change their behaviors or motivate them based on their natural behaviors?

For more on succession planning, employee development, natural behaviors, and the Predictive Index, please contact and grab a copy of the book . . .