You’re not a leader if no one’s following you

You’re not a leader if no one’s following you

As many of you know, we just wrapped up our GROW! 2018 Annual Conference on Wednesday in Tampa, where we were joined by hundreds of landscape pros from all across the country who want to get bigger and better.

We talked a lot about leadership over the three days we were together, both because it’s critical to running a successful business and because it’s so difficult to get right. We were fortunate to have on hand a variety of leaders, from within our industry and out, to share their insights. Here’s what I took away from these giants:


1. Allow your team to do their jobs. Frank Mariani, who leads the largest privately owned landscaping business in the country, described his company’s mission statement as their ten commandments. With these as their guide, team members are empowered to make their own decisions about what to do and what not to do. Frank can get out of the way, and his team can do their jobs.

2. Be a leader, not a dictator. Joe Chiellini, whose company, Ameriscape Services, we toured, is also captain of the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. When he pulls up to a fire, Joe barks out orders to get the life-or-death job done. But he’s learned that approach won’t work in business. That’s why he’s created a culture at Ameriscape that’s collaborative, where Joe listens as much as he speaks.

3. Understand what kind of leader you are. Scott Jamieson, vice president of Bartlett Tree Experts, reminded us that we all view the world through a different lens and we all believe we’re right. When you understand your own strengths and limitations, you become conscious of your impact on your team and can learn to effectively lead others who are different from you.

4. Even leaders need coaches. NFL Hall-of-Famer Derrick Brooks told us he wanted to be coached because he wanted to get better. The best leaders ask questions, seek out constructive criticism, and hold themselves accountable.

5. You’re not a leader if no one’s following you. Clay Mathile, the former CEO and owner of the Iams pet food company, put it simply: Leaders are people who are easy to follow. Recognizing your people, giving them positive feedback, and saying thank you is vital to creating a place where people want to work.

Take a look around this week and see who’s following you. Are you the leader you want to be?

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