Seed World

If I’ve Learned Anything About Leadership…

Chalkboard with text

Seed World Group in a big growth phase right now. We’re looking to add team members in our editorial, design and business development areas. Hiring right is only part of the equation…

After travelling to literally hundreds of industry events and reading many thousands of articles and columns from seed industry leaders, I can confidently say I’ve heard 1,000 — no, probably 10,000 — perspectives on leadership and building a team. The common thread through all of them? Everyone will tell you that creating a high-performance team is all about choosing the right people. That’s true… to a point. The most successful companies prioritize choosing highly talented, creative, hard-working team players, absolutely.

However, that’s just step one. I’m convinced the key to achieving real success once you have the ‘right people on the bus’ (thanks, Malcolm Gladwell) depends a whole lot on you and your leadership style. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Shawn Brook
  • See people, not employees. Seed World Group’s team includes some of the best, most skilled, most knowledgeable people you can find, not just in the seed industry, but anywhere. When they come to work, they invest their all into bringing our seed industry partners the best marketing and communications solutions, and our readers the most current news and insightful perspective. BUT… our employees are so much more than what they produce at work. Time away from work is sacred Z— I try really hard to protect my family time and I want my team to do the same. We gave our whole team Fridays off all summer because work-life balance is so critical to productivity at work AND to mental health. We hired a Chief Morale Officer — essentially a ‘corporate mom’ — because a well-timed note from someone checking in, a home-cooked meal, a phone chat just because: if I’ve learned anything along the way, it’s that genuine thoughtfulness matters.
  • Encourage mistakes. I don’t mean encourage screw-ups and dropped balls and shoddy work. I mean the opposite: encourage big creativity, understanding that there has to be space to try new things — and maybe fail — in order to successful achieve that Next Big Thing. 
  • Stand with your team always, including through the hard times. COVID knocked us all on our rear ends, didn’t it? Looking back from now almost two years after the most uncertain of days, it’s hard to believe how giant an impact the pandemic wreaked across all industries, seed included. If you ask me what’s the single thing I’m most proud of in my career, I don’t even have to think hard for an answer: I’m most proud that, when those darkest days came, Seed World Group held onto each and every team member. We pivoted, we adapted — yup, like everyone, we struggled — but we did not lay off one single person. We weathered that storm together and we’re stronger because of it.  
  • Trust that you hired well. My goal isn’t to micro-manage Obi in accounting or Kyle in design or Marc in editorial or any of our other team members. That’s because I know Obi is a whiz with numbers far beyond what I can manage. I know Kyle can pull together bits and pieces of wiggly video full of background noise, yet still miraculously build a totally professional, clean and sharp webinar in a way that consistently amazes me. I know Marc not only writes insightful editorial, he’s committed to digging deep for the story and showcasing it in inventive ways, like podcasts and webinars. Our goal is always to give each team member the space to ‘own’ their role and be excited about the directions they choose to grow it. 

Our eyes are always open for people who are passionate about telling the seed industry’s story to the world. Our company is in a significant growth phase right now with big changes and opportunity on the horizon, both in our Seed World Media division (which includes our multiple publications and their many digital platforms), and our Seed World CREATE division (which offers seed-focused communications and marketing solutions that drive our clients’ growth). Do you want to be part of advancing a globally-focused seed strategy? Do you know someone who’d be a great fit for our company’s culture and passion? We’re looking for people to play critical roles in our editorial, design and business development teams. We’d love to hear from YOU! Drop me a line at

Shawn Brook is President of Seed World Group