The Role of a Landscaping Company's CEO

Over the summer, we hosted a free, live event and gave our followers a chance to submit any questions they had for our team and I answered as many as I could in the hour we had together. There were many questions we didn't have a chance to get to, but they were still good questions that I'd like to answer for you.

Zak Lane of Landscape Effects Group asked us what the role of a CEO should be, and how an owner can better get into the coaching mindset to let their team succeed. I thought it was a great question, so Zak I'm going to answer it for you this weekend. 


In answering this question I want to talk about the journey we've taken to get to where we are today at Grunder Landscaping Co. As a reminder, my business is nearly 40 years old, I am 54, and my role has evolved. I know that when I was younger, I wasn't only a CEO, but also a sales person and production leader all at once. 

But no matter what stage your business is in or what your responsibilities include, it really comes down to four things:

  1. CEOs should be their team's biggest cheerleaders. We need to inspire our team to do what we want and need them to do. This means noticing team members who are going above and beyond, encouraging team members who need a little more practice or training, and rewarding our team for their hard work. You must show your team that you believe in them if you want them to trust and believe in you. Create opportunities for them, show them you're committed to their personal development, and most importantly show them you care.
  1. CEOs should set the vision. It's vital that CEOs are clear with their team on what the vision of the company is, and that we're communicating to the team how we'll get there. Leaders set the tone for their organizations, and we need to be great at what we want our team to be good at. No matter who your direct reports are or what other tasks you're responsible for, setting and communicating the vision for the company should be at the top of every CEO's to-do list.
  1. CEOs need to get out of their team's way. CEOs should focus on what they're best at doing, and can do better than anyone else on the team, and then empower people with complementary skills. Once you've established a team you trust, don't get in the way of them doing what they're great at. This is a lesson I learned the hard way, and I held my team back for too long by trying to do too many things myself.

    I held onto responsibilities because I felt like I was burdening my team by handing off work to them. What I've learned is that so many of our team members want additional responsibilities. I had to reframe it for myself: I wasn't dumping things on them, I was allowing them to learn new skills and giving myself time to focus on things I was better at. 

  1. CEOs should be servant leaders. You're never too important to pull a weed, sweep the floor, or take out the trash. One of the biggest impacts any leader, not just CEOs, can make is by showing your team that you're in the trenches with them. I've gone out with my personal mower to help our mow crews catch back up, salespeople have installed enhancement projects themselves, and our COO spent 24 hours pushing snow during a February snowstorm. A leader does whatever it takes to help their team succeed; sometimes that means doing work outside their job description.

As you look at the week ahead, I challenge the CEOs, and any leaders, reading this to think about their roles and responsibilities: are you cheerleading, are you setting a vision that others want to follow, are you giving your team the ball with expectations, and are you being a servant leader? 

I'll talk to you next week!

Marty Signature-2



Marty Grunder
President & CEO
The Grow Group & Grunder Landscaping Co.

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