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Business Owners & Managers

How Do You Spell Leadership?

By Brian Fullerton from Brian's Lawn Maintenance

Let's imagine for a minute you're working with your crew and helping train a new hire on his first day on the job.

Usually they have the excitement to get on out there, grab some equipment that they've already been debriefed on, and tackle the next job on the calendar.

But what happens when the rookie new hire we just put into our team doesn't seem to tackle the tasks that we want him to, the way we were hoping? Instead of trimming the way we encouraged and told him to, he does it a different way.

What if we receive a phone call later in the day from a less then happy client who let's us know, to our surprise, that trash was littered all over the backyard of her property? Something which we knew nothing about or expected, because earlier that morning we told the new hire exactly not to do something like that.

We scratch our head, perplexed at the actions that transpire during the day.

  • Is the new hire just not cut out for our company?

  • Does he not have the ambition to tackle the day the way we wanted him to?

  • How come he didn't do exactly what we told him to do?

Let me weigh in for just a quick minute and give some encouraging words on how to slow down, to speed up.

There's an old saying that goes a little something like this: How do you spell Leadership? E-X-A-M-P-L-E.

Why You Need to Show, Not Tell

You see, when I hire a new person to our team, there are many different things we’re going to throw at them. Things like,

  • Equipment basics,

  • how to deal with customers,

  • expectations on our standards of work.

There is an endless list to the ramp up phase of a new hire, no doubt about that. It can definitely be overwhelming.

Add in the stress of the day, the outdoor conditions of it being extremely hot, cold, rainy, you name it. Usually this time of the season we are all rushing to play catch up, sometimes sacrificing quality for quantity. No denying that.

Let me give you a quick suggestion for the best thing you can do for your new hires and the people who join your team: do not rely on just TELLING them what to do, but SHOWING them what we do!

You see, when I hire my new folks and give the expectation of how I want a yard to look, I give the specific examples and reinforcement on a job well done.

When I want them to pick up trash and leave a job looking manicured to where the customer comes home impressed on a job well done, I show that by personally taking the time to jump off the mower, and pick up trash.

Not just telling them what to do, but showing them.

It's called leading by example. To give them something to look at as a standard and expectation of what I am looking for.

You see, we can all get caught up in the dangerous game of dictating, especially when we're busy running around, trying to play catch up. Instead of showing our team what we expect from them, we go into a managing mode and "tell" people what we want to do.

And we wonder why we get diminishing results and folks who seem to just not "get it"...

Standards for Employees Start With the Boss

Can I provide an over simplified observation? Perhaps they just don't know what to do just yet because they weren't given a proper example to measure up to.

Ever wonder why your staff constantly show up late, or you always wonder how come no one comes in 10 minutes early? I'd like to ask the pointed question on leadership: when was the last time you did?

When was the last time you went back over a property where you missed something, and took the extra time to go back and trim that tree that someone missed? Even if it wasn't your fault, when did you take responsibility for something and make sure the buck stops here?

When was the last time you got off the mower for example, and picked up trash instead of just running over it? Showing to your guys the standard you expect?

When was the last time you tucked in your shirt, had your hat on correctly, smiled and waved to the neighbors, and led by example? Not just told them, but showed them?

Here's what I will tell you, that I know from personal experience - the surest way to get your team doing what you want and expect them to do is to do it yourself.

Don't even bother exhausting yourself correcting folks on the standards you've set for your company, if your own standards have eroded, providing a poor example for them to model.

You see, it's always easiest to point the finger at something. To blame, to criticize, to get frustrated.

"Why can't he do this?" "Why can't they do that?"

My response to that question is always, did you "show them" what you want done, or simply "tell them"?

You're always setting an example, whether good OR bad, and you’ll be forced to accept the consequences of being that example, no matter what you do.

Make the extra effort and remember to keep your standards high. Remember to show your staff and team what you want done, and you too can have a team that not only shows up, but a team that you can be proud of and show off.

Leadership and being an example is a choice. Sure it takes a lot of effort, but so does replacing folks, hiring new team members, and having poor results from a team that you did not provide a good example to from the beginning.

My suggestion: the same standards you put on your team and your staff, remember to put them on yourself first. Remember to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Every day we have the choice to raise the standard on the team, or to lower it. To show what we want done, or to act slothfully and mail it in.

Remember leadership is spelled E-X-A-M-P-L-E. Choose to provide a good example, and lead your team and model the standard that you want duplicated.

Brian Fullerton
Brian's Lawn Maintenance
2018 UAG Pro

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