Everyday leadershipz; Leaders make the most of optimism

This has been the coldest spring I can remember in the last 20 years. In spite of unusually chilly temperatures, the season advances steadily. The fading daffodils on my hillside line my path and cluster in three-foot letters of R-A-Y. Blue bells have just begun to paint the bank with a soothing purple color.

On my trip down the hill to the Little Hocking River, I am met with a rustling in the dry leaves a few feet in the distance. A male eastern towhee, which resembles a robin, is scattering leaves to expose the ground in search of supper.

My canoe glides into the brown water. On various spots in the middle of the Little Hocking River, Canada geese nest on piles of logs. With their rigid necks and beaks outstretched, they stare at me tracking my canoe with imperceptible movement. My canoe slides by a sandstone ledge and there a few feet above my head another nesting Canada goose frozen in camouflage eyes me. I say hello and proceed up the stream. Pairs of their male partners are walking sentry duty back and forth on the bank. When my canoe crowds their territory, a furious honking fills the valley but few take flight. They have unfinished business close by.

I pass an area where dozens of large oak trees had been harvested several years ago. With repeated spring growths, the scars are now covered and new saplings vie for the growing space. Last week I made a couple of presentations about change. In each one I used spring as one of my analogies.

I love spring with its renewal, fresh energy, and new opportunities and possibilities. Many people say organizational planning should be held at the beginning of the calendar year. I say make your plans at the beginning of the seasonal year. Spring is when life starts again. First understory plants push through the leaf cover. Then trees fill the sky. The buckeye tree is the first to leaf out and is followed by all the other hardwoods.

For many of us, change means having fewer people to do more work or having to make do with fewer resources. I suggest we take advantage of the optimism spring brings to many of us. Get your staff together and discuss the challenges before you. Prioritize these challenges and gather suggestions as to how to most productively address them. The outcomes of team brainstorming and planning on topics of great importance can be amazing.

Now is the time for action. Soon the rebirth of spring will melt into summer and the spinning of the seasons will continue. Right now as we watch growth occur daily is the right time. Involving staff in critical decisions creates feelings of ownership that can be valuable to your business.

R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. Everyday Leadership appears Wednesdays on the Business Page.