What a Leader Can Learn From Beekeeping
Among my interests and hobbies is beekeeping. I begin my second year with hives at an organic berry and pumpkin farm nearby. I spent yesterday (Earth Day – how appropriate!) cleaning hives, frames, tools, washing the smoky-smelling suit and getting ready to get 4 pounds of bees and two very precious Queens today. Everyone THINKS they know about Queen bees: she’s the leader of the hive. The one attended by her daughters and granddaughters – the workers. Serviced once by drones, she lays eggs around the clock building the hive’s population.
But as the “leader” of her hive, she does more than just create more workers. She soothes, calms and reassures her hive. Her pheromones and her physical presence reassures the workers that they are in the right place, that they are working hard for a strong colony and that their future is certain as they store honey and she makes more workers. It’s not unlike what great leaders do. More than just focus not the economic success (for bees that’s more bees and more gathering) Leaders need to exude confidence in the future and reassure a worried community that roots are being put down deeply and care is being taken to survive harsh financial winters to see new springs.
Last week I spoke to a CEO who is struggling with a startup company and a terminal illness. Every time we talk, he is upbeat about the future. Even tinged in the sadness that his dream and his company may have to be created by someone else, he always sounds as if untold success is just another meeting or client away. I asked him how he did it. “Flora,” he said, “If the CEO can’t be optimistic about the future, how can anyone else be?”
Wise words – for a Queen or a King.