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Learning OD & Team-Building from the secret of the Redwood Trees

Do the redwood trees have some extraordinary power? So let’s unleash the miracle of the power of vulnerability and interdependence.

Photo Credit : (Wikipedia)


Muir Woods, San Francisco, is home to the majestic, magnificent, mystic Redwood Trees. Mother Earth has nurtured the tallest and widest trees, some so wide, that it takes around 40 people to make a circle around it! These trees are standing tall for hundreds of years.  By law of nature tall trees need deep roots to keep them stable. However, research shows that the Redwood trees although the tallest, their roots are not deep at all. California faces huge natural calamities like hurricanes, cyclones, windstorms, tornadoes and earthquakes over the past 1000 years. Any other tree ecosystem would probably have collapsed long ago, but the Redwood trees are still standing tall and strong. So, what is the mystery behind the strength of these trees?

Do the redwood trees have some extraordinary power? So let’s unleash the miracle of the power of vulnerability and interdependence. The roots grow outwards instead of deep underground. When these roots touch roots of another tree, they twine around each other multiple times and form strong, unbreakable bonds. Each tree connects   another through its roots. Eventually every single Redwood tree is connected and strengthens each other. The roots hold each other through the mightiest tempest and harshest calamities, and keep the ecosystem sustainable, solid and strong, together.

The roots of older and wiser trees hold on to the roots of trees sprouting to grow. They are basically guiding them to grow big and strong. They are empowering them to reach for the sky and mentoring them “You have the strength of hundreds of trees because we’re all connected. Our strength is shared together, and it grows together.”

#IdeasForAction – Business-Leaders, Captains-Of-Industry and Entrepreneurs should realize that they cannot do anything with excellence alone and understand interdependence by practicing the power of vulnerability and learning their dependency on each team-member. Everyone is Important and it takes everyone to build a great organization. Not just the CEO and CXOS but also the junior-most employee. Real Leaders do not micromanage or squeeze lemons, but extend trust and empower people to innovate and help co-create the vision and execution plan.

The key word is co-create, not create. In most organizations the vision is created by the CEO and the CXO team and thus most employees end up feeling like minions and are disengaged (studies show that over 85% of the workforce globally are not completely engaged and billions of dollars are wasted annually, due to employee-disengagement) and have no Personal-Ownership and Accountability (POA). Being disengaged is not the employee’s fault, but the shortsightedness and insecurity of leaders, to empower employees and create a culture of trust, where people can thrive and not feel stifled. Leaders must understand that teams are not just built with motivational talks, outdoor games, cocktails and karaoke at annual offsite events, but by engaging and empowering ever employee in the food-chain. Employees should be treated like partners-in-change, not minions or lemons getting squeezed for quick-fix results.  

Every employee should connect with all other employees, so that the entire team rises higher, together. This interconnection helps each individual to grow, and inspire each other. It builds trust and transparency, and also creates a feeling of security and satisfaction which nudges them to explore new horizons, innovate and create excellence. Like the redwood trees the CEO/CXOs must empower each person who reports to them to lead others and cascade that empowerment to the bottommost level of management. Organization-Development-(OD) is robust only if each individual is empowered. Remember any organization is strong and solid, when leaders at all levels create more leaders. Only secure leaders with self-trust can do this.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Jerry is a management & OD consultant, celebrated inspirational orator, teacher, UN advisor, internationally certified leadership subject matter expert, trainer, Executive coach and an effective, innovative fundraiser and missionary entrepreneur

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