Leadership inspiration comes from so many surprising places, but when we’re busy it’s easy to become too introspective and task-focused and miss those wonderful moments of insight that can be found when we stop and look.

Regular readers of our blog will know all about our iLEAD model for great leadership, where

L = listening

E = energy

A = authenticity

D = direction

Scanning all the leadership advice out there, it’s obvious that energy is probably the one of these four that receives the least focus. Yet I’d argue that it’s also the one which can have the swiftest impact on our day-to-day effectiveness as a leader. When we are exhausted, or we allow our team to become so, every aspect of our work (and life) is negatively affected. Conversely, when we receive an energy boost, our leadership effectiveness is supercharged.

Getting your daily dose

Personally, part of my own energy management is taking a walk each day. Wherever I am in the world and however busy I am, making the time to get outside and explore my surroundings is vital for my mental and physical health. And so often during these walks I see, hear or smell things that stimulate my creativity, inject new energy into my day and often help me solve a problem. The opportunity to let my mind wander as I wander is central to unearthing leadership inspiration that I can use in my own business and share with clients and colleagues.

One such moment came last week when I took a favourite local walk, through the vineyards of Nyetimber. Since we are near-neighbours, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Nyetimber’s fantastic rise from small-scale start-up to the country’s leading winemaker up close, and it occurred to me on my walk how much leadership inspiration can be found in observing the natural cycle of a vineyard.

  1. Long-term vision

Winemaking is not a fast-buck business. Vines take years to establish and their growth depends on a vast range of factors, from soil type and climate to pest control, weather and pruning. Careful planning at the outset is important, but a winemaker must be ready to adapt to prevailing conditions each day to achieve their goal of healthy growth and a successful harvest.

  1. Teamwork is everything

It takes an incredible array of people and talent to produce a good crop of grapes. Every week in the vineyard there is something to do and there’s both an art and a science to the process, with each highly-skilled person playing their part. There is also an impressive level of communication that goes on, even among a team of different nationalities, where everyone understands their role.

  1. Small things make a big difference

While the extent of the Nyetimber vineyards has grown from a small patch of land to many acres of vines today, I notice that the same precise attention to detail still applies. Seemingly small aspects make a vital contribution to the overall success of the project, from the use of thoughtful companion planting to aid pest control, to the meticulous removal of some of the vines’ leaves at the exact moment to enable optimum grape ripening.

  1. Success can come from unpromising beginnings

Before the vineyards were planted, this patch of land looked distinctly unpromising: rocky, not very fertile, often strewn with rubbish. Yet beneath the surface lies the same wine-friendly terrain (or terroir as the French call it) as found in the Champagne region. While other crops may not have thrived here, Nyetimer identified that it was perfect vine-growing country and have worked in harmony with nature to create something wonderful.

When I set out on my daily walk one day last week, I was looking forward to recharging my batteries and enjoying time in nature. The unexpected bonus of witnessing the Nyetimber grape harvest was a flood of leadership inspiration and a huge boost to my mental energy too.

Never underestimate the importance of managing energy levels, and always be open to leadership inspiration. As always, I’d love to hear about your latest insights.

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