Want to Propel Your Landscape Business Forward? Leadership is the Answer - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Want to Propel Your Landscape Business Forward? Leadership is the Answer

How does a landscape professional create an evolving company—one that is moving forward and won’t become stale?

He or she must lead it.


Sounds simple, sure. But according to Wes Gipe of Aileron, who spoke at last week’s Leaders Forum, an NALP event, this is essential if companies don’t want to die a slow death.

What do ToysRUs, Radio Shack, Blockbuster and Sears all have in common?

“They all thought they were doing things right, but they didn’t stay right,” Gipe says. “They didn’t evolve.”

Why didn’t they evolve? A lack of leadership.

“All businesses are in the process of dying,” he says, “and it’s your job as a leader to get in the way of this.”

Want to be a good leader of your landscape business? Not sure where to start? First, make sure you recognize the following nine traits that define poor leadership. Being aware of any problems you may be causing as the leader of the business is the first step toward changing your mind-set toward success.

9 Traits That Are NOT Appealing in Leadership

#1. Poor Integrity

A leader can be capable, intelligent and effective. But if he or she lacks integrity, trouble follows. For instance, if a landscape business leader engages in unethical behavior, he or she is setting an example for employees to soon follow suit.

#2. Unclear Communicator

A leader can create the most effective plan. But if he or she doesn’t communicate it to employees in a simple and motivating fashion, little progress will be made. If a leader can’t communicate their ideas clearly, they usually are not very effective.

#3. No Vision

Good leaders should always focus on how they can make tomorrow more productive than today. Bad leaders, though, are often complacent—satisfied with the status quo. Progress will not happen if a leader doesn’t focus on the future with a clear improvement plan.

#4. Bad Listener

Most employees want to be a part of the big picture. Interacting with and listening to employees is something that landscape business owners can neglect when dealing with the daily grind. Unfortunately, this is a big mistake. Build a loyal and faithful team by listening.

#5. Too Arrogant

The best leaders accept blame when things go wrong and give credit to team members when things go right. True leaders let go of their egos and focus on their people. After all, without them, where would you be?

#6. Too Negative

Being negative and sharing negative gossip shatters trust in a company. Negative leaders who encourage it and don’t take measures to eradicate it harm more than just company morale; they impede the flow of honest feedback and communication throughout the company.

#7. They promote top-down leadership

When a leader’s title goes to his or her head, it can cause company focus to shift away from employee empowerment and toward the owner elevating his or her own feelings of self-worth. Leadership means providing direction and guidance to encourage growth, not exerting control.

#8. Lack of confidence

At the end of the day, leadership is about having the confidence to make decisions. If someone is afraid to make and commit to decisions, all of the communication in the world won’t make a difference. 

#9. Overly Numbers-Focused

“Your numbers are an autopsy report for the decisions you made 18 to 24 months ago,” Gipe says.  

So overly focusing on numbers means overly focusing on the past and not the future of the business.

“Leaders need to explain where we are going as a company, how we are going to get there and why it is worth it,” Gipe stresses. “The why is so important.”

Improve Your Leadership Today

Recognize any of these traits in yourself or the leaders at your landscape company? The good news: You can change it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking for more guidance? Plan to attend a future Leaders Forum event.