For the past 40 days, my family has taken care of 3 crabs. Managing Eco-Earth and sand habitats, supporting fresh- and saltwater environments, and monitoring eating habits takes research, time and even expense. (We even try to give our crabs a little ocean-spray “tide” in the evenings.) As the first pets we’ve had in years, these critters have reminded us what it means to nurture. Nurturing just might be one of the most undervalued concepts in leadership. And that could be a problem, because nurturing is a critical component to the DNA of servant leadership.
Dictionary.com provides an outline of the concepts involved in nurturing: to feed, to protect, to support, to encourage, to bring up, to train and to educate. I would top that definition off by adding “to be present.” In other words, nurturing requires a cluster of hard skills (to feed, to protect, to train) and soft skills (to support, to encourage, to be present).
Most leaders don’t need to be told how to do those things individually. At some point in their lives, they have successfully modeled each skill. Yet are all leaders considered nurturers?
I’ve often admitted to having a “black” thumb, as opposed to a green thumb. Even knowing this, my siblings gave me a stunning purple orchid after an illness last January. Presumably, given 3 pieces of ice per week, it would thrive. For whatever reason…good access to sun, occasional rain during my vacations where it was left to fend for itself, etc., it has lived to tell the tale. This morning, I was amazed to discover 2 shoots curving around the leaves, arching toward the sun. These will soon be stunning flowers. I don’t have an inability to grow things…at times, though, I am guilty of inattention.
Could that be said of you as a leader? A spouse? A parent?
Are you a nurturer?
Source: "Nurture." Dictionary.com. Retrieved 14 November 2012, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nurture
Keywords: nurture, nurturer, nurturing, servant leadership, lead, leader, feed, protect, support, encourage, bring up, train, educate, inattention, inability