I came across the graceful yet majestic sequoia tree while exploring images of trees to develop a training module. Since that day I have been spellbound by them and my inquisitiveness to know about them grew through the years. The more I read and researched about I, the more I fell in love with it.
I learnt that the ancient Redwoods, commonly called the Giant Sequoia, can grow up to 300 feet tall and can grow as big as twenty-three feet around and can live up to 300 years and are fire resistant. In fact forest fires pop the sequoia cones open, distributing their seeds on the forest floor that have been fertilized by the ashes. The most amazing fact is that these trees can grow in just 3 feet of soil and yet withstand strong winds. Their strength lies in the fact that their roots intertwine with other sequoia trees, providing strength to each other.
Here are few things that that we learn about building strong teams from the amazing facts about survival strategies of Sequoias.
Trees are active communicators
Unlike other strong trees, they do not grow roots deep into the earth. From above ground, trees appear to exist in independent isolation. They would seem to be competing with one another for sun, shade, and food. But a look underground reveals that trees are social. A single tree can be in communication with 47 nearby ones. Come wind, floods or foul weather – these trees stand tall together weathering all odds.
Lessons Learnt: Design communication into the structure of the team and encourage team members to maintain direct links with each member of the team, not just a central figure like a team leader or manager
Elder trees lead while helping their offspring grow
Their survival depends on communication between trees. As in many human social circles, older trees are generally more connected and act as hubs within the network. This has a nutritional role within the forest system, as elder trees direct the transfer of nutrients through roots and fungi, prioritizing saplings to help them better survive environmental changes.
Lessons Learnt: Leaders and more-experienced team members who prioritize knowledge transfer and mentoring are making direct contributions to the long-term capabilities of the team
They plan for the future of the forest
To support photosynthesis, trees are able to alter the growth of individual branches to provide neighboring trees better access to sunlight. Upon a beetle attack, trees send warnings through the network to warn other trees. Elder trees can even reduce the size of their root systems to create space for younger trees’ root systems to grow into.
Lessons Learnt: Teams should simultaneously focus on present challenges and longer-term goals. Effective teams use systems thinking to understand how current challenges are linked to longer-term goals.
To sum it up, we learn from the silent majesty of Sequoia trees who survive many odds together – Simply by Being Together!