Landscape Business Leader: Be a Coach Instead of a Manager to Grow Productivity - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscape Business Leader: Be a Coach Instead of a Manager to Grow Productivity

Ever feel that as a landscape business leader you have to always appear strong, must always know the right thing to say and should have all the answers to all the questions at all times?

Guess what? While that may be your vision of what a business leader should be, it’s not a very realistic one.

And, on top of that, you’re creating a culture within your company that lacks trust, embraces conflict and eliminates any real enforcement of a team working together. Instead, individuals begin to operate in silos, focusing on their own agendas.

Imagine this: If you share your weaknesses with your people instead of covering up your setbacks, your employees might stop being afraid of you and might actually start connecting with you as a landscape business leader.

So Many Business Strategies, So Little Time

Wes Gipe

Wes Gipe learned this lesson all too well. Gipe, a business advisor at Aileron, covered up his mistakes as a business owner. “[My employees] believed I was better than they were, and that just couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says. “I had made every mistake they had made, at least once, and unfortunately some of them several times.”

What Gipe learned is there are several strategies a business owner can adopt. First, there’s having superior service. Second, there’s having close customer relationships. And, lastly, there’s running a seamless operation. Those are all great strategies. But having a great culture is what he calls a “sustainable competitive advantage.” The reason being that the best systems, customer relationships and products or services can all be ruined by a poor culture that works against it on a daily basis.

Culture Reigns Supreme

In today’s tight labor market, getting more done with less is standard procedure. People gravitate toward a company that provides them opportunities for personal and financial growth.

Your goal as a landscape business leader is to build a culture that attracts workers, retains them and develops them along the way.

3 Steps to Build a Culture that Works for You

Here are some ways Gipe suggests a landscape business leader can build a great culture.

Step 1: Show Vulnerability & Build Trust. Sharing your fears and concerns with your employees shows them you trust them, and, consequently, employees begin to share their ideas and thoughts and even doubts with you, too.

“I was afraid that if I revealed these things that no one would follow me,” Gipe says. “What I learned was that the more I revealed, the more they followed.”

People who aren’t afraid to be authentic find focus and are more productive. “We moved the ball forward so much faster,” Gipe explains. “We got so much more done when people were able just to put themselves out there, focus on the work, and pull together.

Step 2: Make Your Values Known. Your mission is the company’s purpose in life. Your values are how you plan to accomplish it. All employees should know what these are. Some companies celebrate their mission and values by displaying them on walls within their offices or facilities. It’s a reminder to current employees of the values that matter to them and their customers.

Step 3: Provide Opportunities for Idea Sharing. High-performing businesses embrace opportunities to exchange ideas. Ensure you gather input and feedback from employees regularly.

Foster Culture and Grow People as a Landscape Business Leader

As a landscape business leader, you may think delivering results is your top job, however one of your goals should be fostering culture and growing individuals and teams to keep your company thriving today and into the future.

What’s important to remember is you don’t build a culture; culture already exists at your landscape business, Gipe says, but you can evolve it and hone it or take it from a culture you don’t like and turn it into a more positive and productive culture, as Gipe did.

How’s the culture at your company? What’s your company vision? Can you state it briefly and clearly? Let us know! We may feature you in a future NALP story!

Editor’s Note: Learn how to define your culture, align your culture and monitor your culture from Aileron’s Wes Gipe himself at NALP’s Leaders Forum, Jan. 24-26, 2019, in Aruba. Gipe will also talk about building a business that endures things like a recession. Check out a portion of a presentation he gave on that topic here.

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