Building blocks (Photo: marchmeena29 / iStock / Getty Images / Getty Images Plus)

Photo: marchmeena29 / iStock / Getty Images / Getty Images Plus

Is your leadership team structured for success?

There is a popular book making its way around our industry “Traction,” which claims there is only one way to structure your leadership team.

But, that’s a big mistake; there are in fact many correct ways to structure your landscape business depending on your owner’s personality, goals and business niche.

For example:

A classic approach is for the owner to assume the CEO slot and hire a COO to manage the rest of the business. My good friends at Drost operate this way.

Having said that, I have also seen the opposite work, where the owner hires a CEO to oversee the business, while the owner focuses on what he or she wants to do (often, it’s sales or new product/business development). My friend and client, George Tucker owner of LanDesign in St Louis, operates this way and is very happy and prosperous.

There are also highly successful organizations set up with profit center managers, also known as division managers and sometimes called branch managers. Many large commercial maintenance firms set up this way, and many single-site operations have grown quite large with this org structure, like Southern Botanical in Dallas, Texas, run by my friend, Jason Craven.

With middle management, structure follows strategy

After you decide who reports to you as owner, you then need to decide what the next level of management looks like.

The book “Traction” would have you believe there is only one way to structure middle management (with a sales manager and an operations manager and an admin manager), but that is dangerously oversimplified.

There are many ways. Drost does it one way, LanDesign does it another and Southern Botanical does it a third way.

I learned years ago in business school that “structure follows strategy,” meaning you must decide on your company strategy first and then develop the right organizational structure to support that strategy. You don’t just copy and paste it out of a book.

Your challenge for 2021

The key for a successful 2021 and beyond is to define what you want your role to be as the owner, define your business strategy for 2021 and then decide on the organization structure that will best support your goals.

P.S. If you want to dive further into this important topic, learn how to set up your organization and gain inspiration from how these companies mentioned above have set up their leadership teams, you can join me on Feb. 16 for my new virtual event, “The Executive Experience: The Power of Collaborative Experience between CEOs, COOs and Division Leaders.” Learn more here.

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Jeffrey Scott

About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit

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