Hike Leadership Metaphors Forward: Sunflowers

One of my favorite sights, as I hike in the summer months, is the sunflower. They are so tall and bright, and I am always struck with their majestic appearance. Somehow there are a source of encouragement and seem to reflect the power of the sun itself. I think the sunflower makes a great picture of an organizational leader. Van Gough painted a series of works of this fantastic flower, so here are six facts about sunflowers that help to paint this leadership metaphor.

#1 There are 70 different species of sunflowers. The most common is the bright yellow flower with brown centers, but others are copper, red, brown, orange, and bi-colored. So, effective organizational leaders come in all varieties and colors. Leadership is not determined by the color of the skin or the gender of the individual. The varieties of experiences, backgrounds, giftedness, talents, and strengths enable many individuals to raise up as sunflower leaders.

#2 The sunflower is one of the fastest-growing plants. It can grow 8 to 12 feet in 5 to 6 months. The effective leader is always growing and is growing as fast as he/she can grow. A leader is a life-long learner always striving to know more and to go deeper into the understanding of his/her ministry. 

#3 The sunflower can grow just about anywhere because of its adaptability to soils from sand to clay and a strong tolerance to dry soils. Two key characteristics of every good leader are adaptability and tolerance. The old saying, “Bloom where you are planted,” seems to capture the parallel between the flower and the leader. The soils of life might not always be rich and moist and conducive to growth, but the effective leader adapts and makes the best of every opportunity for growth.

#4 A sunflower needs at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight every day to reach its maximum potential. They grow tall in order to reach as far above other plant life as possible in to gain even more access to sunlight. An effective leader recognizes his/her need for truth and wisdom. A leader must spend time, lots of time, the majority of his/her time being exposed to the light of truth and integrity and honesty and understanding.

#5 A single sunflower can hold 2,000 seeds, and those seeds are filled with vitamins and minerals. The seeds are high in energy containing 584 calories per 100-gram serving. An effective leader is always looking to multiply his/her leadership by raising up others around him/her. The leader is looking to plant seeds and cultivate a harvest-field full of other sunflower leaders filled with talents and abilities that can change their world.

#6 The is a tea that is made from sunflower leaves that is effective in treating fevers. Another tea made from the flower itself is good for treating malaria. The crushed leaves of the flower are used in many medicines for sores, swelling, spider and snake bites. A good leader might not have all the answers to every question, but he/she should be ministering to the needs and concerns of others. Hurting people need sunflower leaders.

For more facts and insights into sunflowers that might add to this metaphor, check out the following websites: 70 Interesting Sunflower Facts To Brighten Up Your Day | Facts.net and 50 Amazing Facts About Sunflowers (shesaidsunflower.com)

Sunflower photos – The Rough Collection

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