Leadership Lessons from the Parables – The Sower

2 of 5 in the series






The Parable of The Sower: Matthew 13:1-24

The story of sowing seeds, which is like God’s word.

  1. On hard ground, birds eat the seed – like people who do not listen.
  2. On stony ground, the plants grow, but only for a short time – like people who hear, but do not really listen to understand.
  3. On thorny ground, the plants grow, but are choked out – like people who hear, but do not really believe and are consumed by other messages, forgetting this message.
  4. On fertile ground, the seed produces a bountiful crop – like believing in the vision and being committed to that vision.
This parable was explained by Jesus. Some were not explained or interpreted. Parables are, however, open to individual interpretation. The details are to enhance the story and sometimes are not crucial to the point. The type of soil and the conditions for this parable, however, are crucial to the meaning.
I have framed this vision for a leadership point of view. Leaders have a vision, expressed in tangible statements – many times in SMART goals. (See my article on SMART Goals.)
Sharing goals is like sowing the seed. There are many possible responses, just like in the parable. Sharing goals is an act of faith and commitment. Sharing goals is accountability. We are reluctant to share goals for many reasons. Here are some that come to mind:
  • We think that writing the goal is good enough, and the goal will happen just because we have articulated it. This is like acquiring the seed and not sowing it. Just because we have a goal, there is no guarantee that anything will happen. (Sometimes the goal is conceived and not written – this is dreaming, and not goal setting.)
  • We think that we do not want to be vulnerable to criticism if we fail, therefore the goal remains private.
  • We are afraid of looking bad if we fail at reaching the goal, so it seems safe to share the goal after it has been completed.
  • We think that activity in pursuing the goal will be self-evident, therefore there is no reason to share what will become obvious.

I am sure that there are many more reasons. These are the most common reasons that I encounter. None of these reasons work for helping to accomplish anything – especially to accomplish an important goal.

Sharing a goal means that we must be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is an important leadership trait. James Jordan, in his book,¬†The Musician’s Soul: A Journey for Examining Spirituality for Performers (see the quote HERE), teaches conductors that they must become vulnerable in front of an ensemble as a necessary component of music making.¬†Transparency brings energy and momentum to goals. We are reluctant to share goals. Well, it is time to get over that reluctance.

There are two major responses that a leader will receive when sharing a bold, well-articulated goal with someone whom he or she respects.

  1. Enthusiasm with energy for the idea (sometimes with an offer to help or to provide a connection).
  2. Ridicule. This might be in the form of sarcasm such as, “You are going to do what?”

Either way, with either response, I call this inspiration. Someone who doubts my plan only stirs up my conviction to succeed. My internal message is, “Just watch! I’ll show you!”

There are three principles in sharing goals.

  1. Share the goal with someone you respect and with whom you have a personal relationship. Share the goal in writing and in person. The goal is important, so create the context of importance when sharing your prize idea.
  2. Do not ask for anything. That’s it. Share and do not ask for anything. If someone has something to give, then it will come to you in a more substantial and generous manner.
  3. Stay in touch monthly over the next year. Continue to share your progress without asking for anything. Vary the method of contact. Use email, US mail, phone, personal visit, package delivery services, and other methods as appropriate.

Be intentional when sowing seeds. You lead people who will get it. You cannot convince everyone, however, you will find fertile ground.

Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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(c) 2012 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.


Hugh Ballou (Author)