Teamwork Lessons from the California Coastal Redwoods

Recognize This! – True team structure creates the support system to allow individuals to achieve their very best.

There are many amazing things in America, the coast redwood trees in Northern California are but one. I learned something fascinating about these trees, one of which is they are the tallest trees on earth growing to 350 feet high (or the equivalent of a 35 story building). Yet, considering their height, these giants have a very shallow root system, extending “over one hundred feet from the base, intertwining with the roots of other redwoods. This increases their stability during strong winds and floods.”

Why does this fascinate me? Think of the implications for each tree, which cannot survive alone. It must intermingle its roots with its neighbors to build a sustaining network for long-term survival, even in the harshest conditions. Yet each tree can still grow to impossible heights on its own.

Now think of the similarities in how true teamwork can strengthen a company as a whole and yet still allow individuals to grow. A solid team structure provides the root system needed for information sharing, learning, and support while enabling each person to achieve their own personal heights based on their unique talents and abilities.

What does the “root system” look like in your organization? Among your team?

Image credit: Save the Redwoods

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

One Response

  1. Mario Vaden says:

    Coast redwoods can survive alone, as can other species like Douglas fir. It just depends on whether they were planted or germinated alone or in groups, and whether or not that density changed.

    More isolated trees with less shade root deeper. And trees supplied with more water root more shallow.

    That aspect can also provide food for thought about the ability to adapt.


    M. D. Vaden

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