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The look of a Green Industry leader

February 1, 2003 -  By

By: Jim Paluch, president of JP Horizons.

“I need people that will lead.” You can hear that statement from about every landscape business owner, general manager, foreman and supervisor. Everyone is looking for the individual that will step up and take the responsibility to make decisions, take action and get results.

Everyone is constantly looking for the magic formula to find leaders or to create them from their current employees. The fact is that there is no magic formula to leadership development. The commonality of all organizations that have mastered growth and profitability is that the owners have set an example in leadership.

In studying landscape companies, there is a truth that cannot be denied in developing the organization of leaders. This truth is simply this: Your crew is a direct reflection of you. Your team is looking at you to see what a leader should look like.

The publisher of my books, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, tells the story of disciplining his young son, Jerry. “Jerry, it is about
time you started acting like a man,” Charlie told him in his “manly” voice. His son responded innocently by asking: “I will Dad. What is a man supposed to act like?” Charlie knew at that moment he wasn’t setting the right example.

If a leader’s focus is to develop leaders, would those individuals who work for you and me know what a leader should look like? Have we stood tall and gained the respect of those who depend on us to lead the way? That can only be answered by standing in front of the mirror and looking into the eyes of the person claiming to be a leader.

Set the first example of leadership and delegate. The manager who has to do it all is just that—a manager. You lead when you allow others to take on the responsibility of doing what you could have done but chose not to. Follow up what’s been delegated. This holds the individual or team accountable. Accountability can seem brutal at times; but without it, you enable people to accept mediocrity, and the mediocre individual never becomes a leader.

As accomplishment and success come to those individuals or team members and they are allowed to take on responsibility, a natural tendency to learn develops. Team members realize that to succeed, they must learn or pay the consequences of falling short of what they are being held accountable to do. The desire to learn becomes a natural evolution in the growth of leadership.

The next step in this evolution is the desire to teach. Just as your leadership skills become honed when you start to develop and instruct potential leaders, your leaders will emerge as they begin to teach and develop those looking to them. Imagine the synergistic force that takes place in a company, family, team and nation when the desire to teach is in full motion. Imagine, also, the personal satisfaction for the leader who stays humble as those looking at his or her example grow and set the example for those coming after them.

The final and probably most important step in leadership development is continuing to learn. The instant you stop learning, you take on a manager’s role—doing only the things expected of you. Several years ago, I attended a panel discussion at a landscape state association meeting. On stage were five owners of well-respected companies, and they were asked questions about their success. An audience participant asked, “What would you say was the most important thing to do to become a leader in an organization?” All five said the same thing, “Read books!”

They talked about ideas they discovered and how they helped them become better leaders. They discussed how their organizations were reading books and leaders were emerging. Continuing to gain knowledge is important to leadership development.

What does a leader look like? Look in the mirror and see if you can see a great example of one.

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LM Staff

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