The Secret Garden | Frances Hodgson Burnett

Summary of: The Secret Garden
By: Frances Hodgson Burnett


Dive into the world of ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett and discover the transformative power of leadership through the eyes of Debbie Brewster, a rising corporate executive struggling to find success in her new role. Witness her experiences as she learns the invaluable SERVE model of leadership from the company president, Jeff Brown, and see her journey from failure to greatness. The summary highlights crucial themes, such as the importance of serving others, developing character, and the necessary balance between professional goals and personal relationships. Embark on an insightful journey that demystifies the process of becoming an exceptional leader.

Turning Problems into Opportunities

Debbie, a new director struggling to manage her team, seeks guidance from a librarian at her local library. The librarian helps her realize that her problems are opportunities and directs her to resources on mentoring. Debbie takes the advice and signs up for a mentoring program offered by her company. Through this experience, she learns that great leaders aren’t made overnight and that their success is ultimately dependent on the people around them.

Incredible Mentorship Story

Debbie was chosen to participate in the company’s mentoring program, and she was astonished to learn that Jeff Brown, the new company president, would be her mentor. During their meetings, Jeff only asked how he could serve her as a mentor and provided valuable insights into leadership. In one of their sessions, Debbie asked Jeff about the secret of great leaders, and he promised to discuss it with her in the next meeting.

Debbie was amazed when she received a notice that she was selected to be part of the mentoring program in her company. She was surprised to know that Jeff Brown, the new president of the company, would be her mentor. She thought that someone had made a mistake, so she contacted Jeff’s assistant. Her doubts were cleared when the assistant offered her a choice of meeting times, and Jeff was looking forward to seeing her. During their sessions, Jeff always asked Debbie how he could serve her as a mentor and provided valuable insights into leadership. In one of their meetings, Debbie asked Jeff about the secret of great leaders, and he praised her for asking a great question and promised to discuss it further in the next session. With Jeff’s guidance, Debbie was able to enhance her skills and become a better leader.

The SERVE Model of Leadership

Debbie learns from Jeff about the importance of character in leadership and the five ways great leaders serve their firms and people.

Debbie was impressed with Jeff’s listening skills and decided to learn from him. Jeff spoke to her about leadership, comparing it to an iceberg with a small visible peak and a lot of bulk under the waterline. The “skills” part of leadership is the portion that others see, while the “character” part is the leader’s essence as a person. According to Jeff, great leaders have “servant hearts,” and they serve their firms and people in five ways.

Jeff promised to review the five steps with Debbie in the future and encouraged her to seek opportunities to serve her staff to enable them to do better work. Debbie took his advice and went out of her way to learn about her employees’ difficulties and to help them. When she met with Jeff again, he complimented her and said she was ready to “discover more strategic ways to serve.”

Jeff then broke down the meaning of the SERVE model of leadership, emphasizing that it’s the leader’s job to make time today to ensure that there is a tomorrow. The SERVE model stands for support, empathy, respect, vision, and encouragement. Debbie learned that great leaders prioritize character and serve their firms and people through these five ways.

Leadership Lessons

Great leaders use vision to inspire and motivate their followers to work with purpose towards a future they want to build. Jeff teaches Debbie the importance of having strong values that guide behavior and the “Heads Up” challenge of planning for the future vs. handling daily activities. By delegating some tasks to focus on mapping out goals, Debbie realizes the leader’s role in making time today for tomorrow’s success. A leader cannot lead well without serving.

Leadership Lessons Learned

A summary of Jeff’s leadership teachings and their successful implementation in Debbie’s business unit.

Debbie’s business unit improved significantly when she incorporated Jeff’s leadership teachings into her daily activities. Jeff emphasized the importance of engaging with employees and hiring the right people. He believed that leaders should leverage the strengths of people and make their weaknesses irrelevant. To accomplish this, he met with job candidates four times and encouraged them to ask questions and learn more about the company. Jeff also focused on training, education, and mentoring to develop existing employees.

Debbie followed Jeff’s advice and actively searched for good candidates to join her team. She found Jill, a friendly librarian who was open to a career change, and invited her to join the company. Jill became the newest member of Debbie’s team and made an immediate positive impact.

Jeff’s teachings helped Debbie’s employees become more enthusiastic and productive, resulting in a happier work environment. He believed that profits and financial success were the result of a job well done and not the primary objective of a leader. Through engagement, training, and mentoring, leaders can create a strong team of individuals who work cohesively towards shared goals.

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