Well-functioning workplaces are no accident

Early the second morning of our 2011 trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, my wife Carol and I drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest summit on the North Atlantic seaboard rising over 1,500 feet. Cadillac Mountain is a pink granite dome that has been planed by repeated glaciers. It is one of 20 peaks on Mount Desert Island where Bar Harbor also resides. From October through February, here the sunrise first greets the United States. This day, however, we could only see a few feet in front of us. A fog bank covered everything and left us feeling like we had been walking in a light rain. We walked the paths and read the signs but the beautiful panorama was hidden.

Disappointed, we headed to the visitor center. We perused the various exhibits and listened to a ranger’s presentation about the park in front of a large topographic display. With maps in hand we began the drive around the park loop stopping at Thunder Hole. Thunder Hole is a small inlet where chunks of granite have been carved out. With high waves and high tide, the pounding ocean against the rocks created a spout 40 feet high that rumbled like thunder. We missed its peak but could hear smaller thunder-like claps. Next we drove down to Sand Beach, another inlet, which is a popular swimming place.

The following day we once again tried Cadillac Mountain and were rewarded with a spectacular view. We could see a number of islands surrounding Mount Desert. Glaciers also noticeably carved these smaller islands with the south part being the highest. Bar Harbor seemed small in the distance. Spruce and pitch pine grew in patches shading plenty of wild blueberries an arm’s reach from the path. However, numerous signs prohibited tourists from picking them.

But we couldn’t linger long. There were other sights and tastes to be had. Our next destination was Jordan’s Pond. We explored the facilities while we waited on a table at the park restaurant. The wait was rewarded with delicious popovers just like my sister Sylvia used to make.

Finally, we drove to the Wild Gardens of Acadia. These gardens were divided into the various habitats of the island, including mixed woods, meadow, mountain, heath, seaside, brookside, damp thicket, bird thicket, coniferous woods, bog, marsh and pond. The carnivorous pitcher plant was one of the most exotic ones but several of the many ferns and other plants can be seen here in Ohio.

Mount Desert Island is a unique place. The combination of resistant granite outcroppings, the assault of periodic glaciers and the mediating influence of the ocean resulted in an unusual mixture of cold northern and warmer southern plants. The fauna and flora have benefited from this uncommon ecosystem.

Similarly, the best leaders are strong and resistant to changes that don’t make sense for the business or employees while at the same time carving and molding employee skills to meet future business needs. By doing so they create the diversity that best fits the organization’s challenges. Just as the Mount Desert Island ecosystem was not an accident, well-functioning organizational cultures are not accidents. They are planned and developed by good leaders.

R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray’s new book, “And my Brother Jack: Everyday Leadership Lessons,” visit his website, raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)