Words of Wilson will teach you each month to better understand, develop and manage your most valuable resource – your people.

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“We’re not in seasonal business; we’re a business populated by seasonal people,” said industry provocateur and legendary founder of ValleyCrest, Burt Sperber.

His second greatest lesson was to “not read the papers.” Winners win even when the going gets tough was a mindset value: business owners with the discipline to keep their cards close to their vest and stay three moves ahead are not only going to stay in the game the longest, they will have a leg up on winning. While it’s nearly impossible to escape the news cycle in the digital age, the advice still holds the road. Opportunity is there for those who think strategically and don’t let bad news distract their focus.

Today, labor, as it has been over many economic cycles, is again a No. 1 challenge. And, along with it, higher wages and payroll costs. Landscape companies are finding it difficult to staff up in order to grow. Work is plentiful but operational capacity is challenged. This is particularly difficult when we remember we’re not in the business of creating and maintaining beautiful landscapes; we’re in the business of selling labor. If we don’t have the labor to do those beautiful landscapes, how are the jobs going to get done? How can we win customers, win market share, and win as great and profitable places to work?

Overcoming challenges takes hard work from everyone, day in and day out. But it’s only half the battle. Training your mind and your team to focus on organizational vision and goals and deal with the occasional downturn is more than just knowing a few tricks of the trade.

The 7 attributes of winning leadership:
  1. Winning leaders develop strategies and scenarios around staffing based on offense not defense. They win by planning to win; they don’t win by not losing.
  2. Winning leaders find creative ways to find good people and enlist their employees to be their company’s best recruiting ambassadors.
  3. Winning leaders build their bench. Recruiting is not an event. Companies lose recruiting traction when they don’t do it every day.
  4. Winning leaders focus on results and leverage the integration of new technologies. They know that “fast beats slow” and they invest in tools and knowledge that expedite response. Being perceived as too slow causes a job candidate to lose interest.
  5. Winning leaders promote a championship culture. They know that success involves doing the right thing the right way. They create an environment in which everyone can flourish and soar above adversity, where accomplishments are recognized, and where there is a spirit of trust, mentoring, and creativity—and where all of the above make the company a great place to work.
  6. Winning leaders develop an “outside-in” perspective to imagine how the workplace looks from an applicant’s perspective and make positive adjustments to become more stakeholder-friendly.
  7. Winning leaders take calculated risks and bold action on pricing. They promote when others pull back, add revenue streams, raise pay rates above market and raise prices.
We’re not in the business of creating and maintaining beautiful landscapes; we’re in the business of selling labor.
Recruiting is a culture.

Combined with a solid plan to train, mentor and promote from within, your company will be at a competitive advantage versus just being competitive.

Bruce Wilson is principal of green industry consulting firm Bruce Wilson & Company.