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BUSINESS Leading for success

Leadership with a clear line of sight by Larry Fish, GreenSearch

I recently made a trip to visit a new client in the Mid-Atlantic. Tis client operates a very profitable seven-year old full-service commercial landscape company employing 75 people. I had the unique opportunity to be side-by-side with this owner from sunup to sundown, and was exhilarated from that experience.

I observed the owner interact with his crew supervisors at 5:30 a.m. before the first truck leſt the premises, visited a number of work sites, met many of his vendors, and was present when he welcomed back his crews to the yard in the late aſternoon. It was raining by then, yet the em- ployees were still engaged and seemingly full of energy. Tere was just something special about this owner regarding how he led and interacted with others that made me invest additional time in reflection aſter returning to my hotel room that evening.

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For a while, I had more questions than answers:

> Why do some green industry busi- ness 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 out- side of work to gain perspective?

> How are they apparently able to consistently make all the right moves?

> Why do they not bend to tempta- tion 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 his or her own unique leadership style has been a posi- tive 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.

Successful leaders Te more I study successful leaders in our indus- try, the more I 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. Tey are never comfortable sitting by and allowing fate to determine their course of action. Instead, they choose to be pioneers and innovators. Tey always have their ears to the ground for good ideas and have an uncanny ability to apply the best ones in a successful manner. Tey are will- ing 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 defining a clear vision. To use one of Stephen Covey’s principles of personal leadership, “Tey begin with the end in mind.” What’s more, they encourage others to become a part of that vision. Tey express themselves in terms that their followers know and understand, and they do it with enthusiasm.

Tere was a great book published a while back entitled, First, Break all the Rules. What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, authored by Buckingham and Coffman of the Gallup Organization. I highly recommend this book to business owners who are serious about enhancing their leadership skills and knowledge. Te authors state that leaders have a realistic sense of themselves. Tey realize that what they envision cannot be done without the help of others. Terefore, 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.

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