They are smaller than a penny but have been labeled as “one of the most destructive pests ever seen in North America” – referring to the Emerald Ash Borer. This tiny insect feeds off the leaves of ash trees, but its larvae bore through the bark and feed on the tissue under it, thereby cutting off the water flow and killing the tree.

The spread of the disease has been hastened by transportation of wood, wood chips and firewood out of infected areas, and there are currently 14 states under quarantine because of this pest, including my Iowa. It is estimated that within the next several years our state will lose 17% of its tree population with the death of 50+ million ash trees, raising ecological, logistical, aesthetic and commercial questions about how to respond to such a massive loss of timber and the accompanying branches.

While there is not much that can be done to save a tree once it is infected, there are some steps that can be taken to prevent the invasion of the larvae and to prolong the tree’s health.

I think the same is true for organizational “borers” – the insidious few who infect an organization’s culture and diminish its health. There are things an organization can do to foster a climate that keeps the nay-sayers at bay and allows for free flow of trust and information, but once toxins permeate the environment it is hard to rid them except through cutting relationships with those that are spreading the negativity.

Organizational borers are often small and work undercover – like their equivalent the Emerald Ash – and many times management does not pay attention to them until it is too late. Don’t let your culture fall victim to disruption through neglect. Proactively address the little bugs before they bore into your foundation.

Source: Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

 

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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