It happens every winter. The curious and unrelenting urge to lie down on the couch in front of a fire. I often fight this urge. I’m not that good at resting! I often override it and just keep working. That hasn’t ended well in the past. In 2005 it led me to cancer. Since then my body has intervened against my compulsive overworking and served me a vicious flu or some other conundrum to lay me flat on the couch in spite of myself.

I’m learning, oh so slowly. This is what I have come to know that may be useful to you.

Everything is in flux. There are cycles in the natural world as well as in the human and leadership world. There is a balance between effort and rest. Athletes know this. Farmers know this. There is a season for everything. (Did you hear The Byrds pipe in? Turn, turn, turn… )

I’ve developed a model for the seasons of leadership growth.


In leadership there are two poles that we must swing between if we are to progress in our work and relationships. The first axis is the sway between learning and sharing. Leaders are learners, and leaders are teachers. The best way to learn of course is to teach what we learn. 

The other axis is the process between create and destroy. Every activity and project that we initiate goes through a creative process that means a destruction in the end. We are always creating and destroying projects, initiatives, and opportunities. The old makes way for the new.

Each of the quadrants in the model corresponds to a season. For me these are literal seasons as well as metaphorical. 


This is when we are been balancing learning and creating. We are sowing seeds for the future! We are bringing together new ideas and new opportunities and seeing what may come of them. 

Questions for spring:

  • What can I learn? 
  • Who can I serve? 
  • How can I help?


In summer we tend those seeds and grow them to their fullest potential. We actively work on projects. We are in full implementation mode. Energy is high and there is a sense of exuberance.

Questions for summer:

  • What can I share with others? 
  • How can I share it more broadly? 
  • How can I make the most of this experience?


The autumn season is when we get to reap the rewards of our effort over a period of time. We invoice for work completed. We assess the results of our marketing campaigns, we review the financials from the end of the year. 

Questions for autumn:

  • What was the best part of the year so far? 
  • What happened that went well? 
  • What was not so great?


And then there is winter. This is the season that people often skip over. Correction, this is the season I often skip over. The need to rest is an integral part of the cycle of learning and sharing, creating and destroying. It’s where we regroup, refresh, and gather the energy for the next cycle of development.

Questions for winter:

  • What did I learn from this experience a period of time? 
  • Who do I want to become next? 
  • What do I need most to be the best version of myself?

What cycles do you experience in your work? What seasons do you like the most? When do you schedule your winter rest time?

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  • Zoë Routh

    Australia's Leadership Expert, Author of Book of the Year "People Stuff" l Speaker l Mentor l Strategist

    Zoë Routh is one of Australia’s leading experts on people stuff - the stuff that gets in our way of producing results, and the stuff that lights us up. She works with the growers, makers, builders to make people stuff fun and practical.

    Zoë is the author of four books: Composure - How centered leaders make the biggest impact,  Moments - Leadership when it matters most, Loyalty - Stop unwanted staff turnover, boost engagement, and build lifelong advocates, and People Stuff - Beyond Personalities: An advanced handbook for leadership. People Stuff was awarded Book of the Year 2020 by the Smart WFM Australian Business Book Awards.

    Zoë is also the producer of The Zoë Routh Leadership Podcast.