What I Learned about Leadership in a Cranberry Bog

There is a lot to be learned about leadership in a cranberry bog.

Years ago, while traveling through New England, my wife drug me into the Ocean Spray headquarters to see how cranberry's are harvested. Being a teacher, the woman cannot resist a good factory tour. This did not seem like a good idea to me. I see no need to spend travel time watching people work.

Oh, there is one other small thing I need to mention. I hate cranberries!

That said, I must admit, it was an interesting afternoon observing how ‘cranberry world’ all happens. Cranberries are grown in bogs until the berries are ripe. The bogs, which are like small ponds that are only a couple of feet deep, are flooded so the ripe berries will rise to the top. Easy picking!

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Your job is to keep the water level high every day. You flood the organization or team with your passion, love, zeal, skill, determination, and excellence and all the cranberries (those who follow you) begin to rise.

In the bogs we visited the level of water was determined by the harvesters, not by the berries. As leaders it is up to us, not our employees, to ensure our organizations and teams are being properly flooded with ideas, resources, and words of affirmation.

Too often leaders fail to appreciate the opportunity they have been given and end up sucking the life out of their people by tearing them down instead of building them up.

When a leader finds himself more aware of what is wrong with others than what is right about them, the organization is headed for trouble. This trouble manifests itself in the form of poor productivity, lack of innovation, low morale, and ultimately falling profits.

Ask yourself the questions ... Am I an encourager to those around me or  is my negativity “bogging” others down? Do I look for ways to build up my team or am I more interested in seeing their flaws?

Don’t assume all the berries will rise. They won’t. Only the ripe ones will. Regardless, be faithful to keep the water level high.

Lesson #1 from the Bog: Your job is to keep the water level high every day.

Tomorrow I will share with you how to deal with those who refuse to rise.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What are some ways a leader can raise the level of those around him?

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