Leadership and “Magnolia effect”

Leadership and magnolia effect

The Magnolia Saucer is a tree of exceptional beauty, known for its spectacular flowers. They can reach between 5 to 10 meters in height and have a rounded canopy with a similar breadth, offering a majestic and sculptural presence in any landscape. The sturdy trunk, with a diameter that can reach from 60 cm to 1 meter in mature trees.

Natural imbalances

The flowers range from white to pink and purple, with an impressive diameter of 15 to 25 centimeters, forming a dazzling visual spectacle in early spring.

Typically, trees begin to bloom within 3 to 5 years after planting, but the fullest flowers come after about 10 to 15 years. This period allows the tree to establish strong roots and its branch structure.

Lack of sunlight, nutritional imbalances, and stress are common challenges that can negatively affect flowering. In other words, the tree can reach its full height but without the flowers, which are its true spectacle.

Leadership formation

The formation of a leader follows the same process. In a relatively short time, it can reach desired heights without yet being able to truly demonstrate its full potential. Like the magnolia, only time brings maturity, not necessarily in age but in the exercise of leadership. No matter how brilliant the academic training, only practice, and prolonged practice, will bring the fullness of results.

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For this reason, in the “business forest,” we can see very tall magnolias, but it is necessary to get very close to measure the width of their trunks and the exuberance of their influence. Nature is wise. The magnolia grows by strengthening its roots, and the trunk becomes robust as the height is supported by a strong base.

Human wisdom

Human wisdom can be much more fragile. We see managers with very rapid growth, but without the experience and learning proportional with the position held. In these cases, if this foundation is not strengthened very quickly, something unthinkable in a magnolia occurs: the fall due to weak foundations and structure.

This thought does not mean opposition to young leaders, and there are many successful ones, but there is always the challenge of trusting that enormous potential will be realized, gaining the experience and wisdom for leadership.

In this sense, it is interesting to note that a magnolia can already produce beautiful flowers between 3 to 5 years old, but the most complete and incomparable beauty comes when it reaches between 10 to 15 years.

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The taller, sturdier, leafier, and more flowering the magnolia, the greater its influence on the entire environment. The roots have managed to absorb everything it needs to reach this stage of solidity and exuberance. In executives, the absorption of knowledge and experiences can come from various fields.

Maturity beyond work

Peter Drucker has two very pertinent quotes on this subject:

“It is important, I think, for people working in companies to have an outside interest, to know other people, and not just let themselves be absorbed entirely by their small world. And all worlds are small.”

“The most qualified person to make a great contribution to the company is the mature person – and you will not have maturity if you have no life or interests outside of work.”

I have lived with top executives, for whom the only subject for conversation was business. Others had a vast culture, able to address the most diverse subjects, in any company, whether employees, clients, conventions, or dinners. It was truly an enriching experience to be close to these leaders.

Without exception, this type of personality always opened doors to clients, contributed to complex negotiations, consequently bringing excellent results.

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I have learned through experience and observation that many completely different areas of business enrich decisions, bring new insights, reflecting directly on professional activity. We talk about history, biology, archeology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and many others.

This broadening of horizons develops various other leadership competencies. There is a greater capacity to understand the internal and external environment, develop empathy, gain a better understanding of human nature. This learning process is not in the academic benches. It depends on each one.

The blossoming of the mature magnolia is what brings beauty, inspiration, and the desire to follow its example. It is not necessary for her to describe herself. Just observe her.

As final considerations, the magnolia brings two great management lessons: First, its ability to strengthen the roots of knowledge and experience, bringing the confidence of solid growth. There is no hurry; nature takes its course, and a lot of patience is needed to reach the point where we think we should be.

Second, its resilience to withstand all external pressures, often suffering from lack of nutrients, or even attacks from pests, resisting lack of watering, and many other pressures, but maintaining its growth and pursuit of its fullness. This returns in the form of enormous well-being and beauty of its environment.

That is its essence: to contribute to the environment, and not just to grow to contemplate its own beauty.