By: Larry Fish, President
At GreenSearch®, we meet a number of interesting and successful people in our line of work. This most often includes interacting with small to medium size landscape business owners, and in many cases the nature of our assignments gives us an opportunity to observe how they provide leadership to the organization to which they have made an enormous financial and psychological commitment.
A while back, we had the unique opportunity to be side-by-side with a green industry owner from sun-up to sundown, and we were exhilarated by that experience. We observed the owner interact with his crew supervisors at 5:30 a.m. before the first truck left the premises, visited a number of work sites, met many of his vendors, and witnessed him welcoming back his crews to the yard in the late afternoon. It was raining by then, yet the employees were still engaged and seemingly full of energy. There was just something special about this owner regarding how he led and interacted with others that made us invest additional time in reflection after this long day.
It seemed for a while we had more questions than answers. For example:
- Why do some green industry business owners do a better job leading their people?
- How do they obtain more “buy-in” than most others on key initiatives?
- Who do these people talk to outside of work to gain perspective?
- How are they apparently able to consistently make all the right moves?
- Why do they not bend to the temptation of taking the easy way out by delaying employee paychecks and vendor payments when business is not so great?
For many owners, coming to grips with their own unique leadership style has been a positive learning experience. For others, it has been a painful journey of lessons learned the hard way and paid for with dollars that should have been booked as bottom-line profits.
The more we study successful leaders in our industry, the more we see that there are certain common practices that they seem to apply in a universal manner. Generally, successful leaders seem unwilling to accept the status quo. They are never comfortable sitting by and having fate determine their course of action. Instead, they chose to be pioneers and innovators. They always have their ears to the ground for good ideas and have an uncanny ability to apply the best ones in a successful manner. They are willing to take the risk of a good idea failing. Why? – because that’s one of the ways good leaders learn.
Another common trait among leaders is their ability to inspire others by means of defining a clear vision for people of what might be. To use one of renowned business author Stephen Covey’s principles of personal leadership, “They begin with the end in mind.” What’s more, they encourage others to become a part of that vision. They express themselves in terms that their followers know and understand, and they do it with enthusiasm.
There was a great book published entitled “First, Break all the Rules. What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently” written by Buckingham and Coffman of the Gallup Organization. The authors state that leaders have a realistic sense of themselves. Leaders realize that what they envision cannot be done without the help of others. Therefore, they are also particularly good at enabling others to act. Said another way, they have the uncanny ability to enlist the help of all those who will make their vision a reality.
The authors also suggest that great managers focus on each of their people’s strengths and manage around their weaknesses. In other words, don’t try to perfect each of your employees, rather do everything to help them become more of whom they already are. Keep in mind that this does not mean that employees cannot learn to do things differently. Skills and knowledge are fluid. Talent, however, is not.
Further, great managers spend most of their time with their best employees. This is a true break in conventional wisdom; however, upon reflection I realized this is truly the fairest approach for the workforce as a whole, and it’s really the only way to reach excellence. The best managers don’t use “average” but “excellent” as the standard to judge performance. Those employees who are already performing above average are the ones most likely to reach excellence.
What does this all mean for aspiring green industry leaders? Don’t be afraid to break some rules along the way.
Let GreenSearch® become your partner toward providing great leaders in your organization. Contact us at 1.888.375.7787 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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