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Archive for the ‘leadership’ tag

Tough calls and uphill battles

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Jim McCutcheon has a simple — but very important – message for landscape contractors on his blog:

We have spent so much time focusing on the “poor economy,” “Obamacare,” “Sequestration,” “Watergate” (Rubio), etc., that we are losing sight of a critical axiom of building a business – you still make the call as to how you are going to lead your company.

Yes, you may need to make some tough calls as to how you are going to successfully overcome the obstacles in front of you.  Sometimes, it means you must make difficult decisions.

Every company needs to have a leader that is willing to be unpopular at times.  That willingness means you have the courage to make tough calls that will lead to better times for all members of the team.  If your focus is on being liked all the time, you can’t succeed.

Seth Godin makes a similar point, but uses a bicycle analogy: The uphill parts of a ride are much more strenuous than the downhills, but it’s only when you’re going up that you have control over how fast you go. Once you crest the hill, physics takes over and you’re essentially ballast.

Now, I look forward to the uphill parts, because that’s where the work is, the fun is, the improvement is. On the uphills, I have a reasonable shot at a gain over last time. The downhills are already maxed out by the laws of physics and safety.

Read Jim’s full post here. Stop thinking about everything that you can’t control and start working on the things you can.


March 12th, 2013 at 12:39 pm


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Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with cancer this season, and his team has rallied around him to overachieve. He visited the team this week to give a victory speech after a big win against the Miami Dolphins. It’s a great message about not letting your circumstances dictate your reality.

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November 5th, 2012 at 3:10 pm

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Weekly round-up

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Here’s our weekly digest of cool stuff from the web. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!


July 27th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Paint a picture

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The first time John Riccitiello managed employees he was 15 and going door-to-door selling lawn services and hiring salespeople. The company he worked for didn’t discover his young age until they asked him to drive the van and he had to admit he wasn’t old enough to have a driver’s license. Riccitiello has gone from selling lawn services to the head of Häagen-Dazs International, Wilson Sporting Goods and now CEO of the $3.8 billion company Electronic Arts. He recently told the New York Times his success – from age 15 to now – has been a product of painting clear pictures for employees.

Q. Any sense of why they gave you the job?
A. I generally think, especially early in a career, what distinguishes leaders oftentimes is whether they paint a picture. The word “vision” can sometimes be horribly overused, but they paint a picture of the way it’s supposed to work, and it resonates with people. And so I think at that point I had a view that we could generate a lot more revenue per household if we bundled some services. It was a logical way to sell, and it worked really well. They wanted me to teach other people to do the same thing.

Q. Talk about some of the leadership lessons you’ve learned.
A. When you’re working on a business and it’s small, you’re a clear part of the equation yourself. When you get the scale, though, you’re mostly painting a picture for a lot of people for whom you’re just a concept, as opposed to a friend. So you’ve got to find a way to be incredibly consistent, so when other people repeat the same thing it conjures up the same picture, the same vision for everyone else.

For more on listening, being genuine and learning from failure, click here.

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November 28th, 2011 at 6:35 pm

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Great Idea: Setting expectations

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Another Great Idea from L&L columnist and die-hard Reds fan Marty Grunder. This one’s about taking initiative and responsibility for your lot in life (or business). Here’s to a good week.

One of my favorite sayings is: “When you do nothing, expect nothing.”

I don’t know that there is a more true statement in life than that one. When you sit on the sidelines and watch things happen, you get passed by. Activity moves things forward; sitting around does nothing. So, hence my saying, “When you do nothing, expect nothing.”

If you’re not happy with where you are right now, take some action. If you aren’t pleased with sales, don’t sit there feeling sorry for yourself; go make some calls. Go see some old clients. Get moving.

If you’re not happy with the performance of your team, talk to them. Just sitting there ignoring the facts is never going to change anything.

When I look back in life at all the mistakes I’ve made, most of them went on and on because I sat there and did nothing to change things. I just didn’t act. Learn from my mistake and take some action this week. Because the alternative, doing nothing just doesn’t work.

When you do nothing, expect nothing.


April 11th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Great Idea: Employee feedback

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Here’s another Great Idea from Marty Grudner to help get your week started:
What do you do about feedback from your team?
I’ve run my landscaping company for 27 years. Hard to believe. During those 27 years, I’ve learned a lot. The area I feel I have grown the most in is Leadership. Oh, I still have a lot to learn but I’m much improved.
One of the things I used to do, and still see a lot of leaders doing today, is asking for feedback when the decision has already been made. If you want to get your followers to check out and tune you out as a leader, ask for feedback on an important decision as an attempt to trick them into saying what you want to hear. People are way smarter than we give them credit for.
For example, if I have already made up my mind to get in the irrigation business, why ask my team what they think? If I have not made up my mind, then ask for feedback and listen to the feedback.
At the end of the day, you do not have to follow the feedback; you only have to acknowledge the feedback.
But, if a pattern forms where no matter what someone offers up, you do what you want to do, why ask for the feedback anyway? You only frustrate your followers to the point they won’t follow you.
And a leader without any followers is? Not much of a leader!

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January 9th, 2011 at 7:46 pm