When I arrived at the University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, as director of Landscape Services in 2000, I came prepared to confront the truth of all those national rankings that listed the state of Mississippi at the bottom. What I discovered at Ole Miss was innate beauty and creativity just waiting for permission to grow. But Ole Miss’ grounds were not prepared as they could have been for recruiting America’s finest young minds at the start of the 21st century.
When then-Chancellor Robert Khayat interviewed me, he let me know that it would take time and effort to develop the potential of this campus. He understood that a total college campus experience, including an inspiring outdoor environment, was critical to recruiting top-level students, faculty, and staff to the university. He knew that students’ (and parents’) first impression of the campus would be a major factor in deciding where to go to college.
His goals were big, the landscape budget was small, and so it was critical to look to the people who maintain the landscape to give the university a competitive edge.
Growing “weeders” into “leaders” became the secret sauce that put Ole Miss at the top of several lists. It won four national awards for its beauty, including Most Beautiful Campus by both The Princeton Review and Newsweek. (We affectionately call these awards our four national championships.)
I studied environments, practices, and methods that allow plants to thrive at Auburn University’s School of Horticulture. I learned how to diagnose unhealthy plants and make changes that help plants grow stronger. Learning how to grow thriving plants as well as observing Khayat and other great leaders, I discovered ways to help develop great people and a great team culture.
I learned that having teams participate in the decision-making process has given them greater ownership in what we do. Some of our best ideas come from our front-line staff members. Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan kept a quote on his desk that read, “There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Listening to, trusting, and respecting those I work with has paid huge dividends at Ole Miss.
Leadership practices are sacred at any level in any organization. All across the country, in every industry, leadership development that offers the individual employee the opportunity to thrive on both a personal and a professional level is needed. If employees, whether sitting at their desks, standing on a production line, or pulling weeds, understand that their ideas and investment of time, energy, and skill matter, then the culture of leadership begins to grow.
Based on my book by the same name, this demonstration/workshop covers the 3 types of shrub pruning: selective, shearing, and rejuvenation pruning. I cover small ornamental trees such as Crape Myrtles. If host provides plants and pruners, I can do hands on pruning with the participants.
Based on my new book (available September 2017), this motivational keynote address is based on my G.R.O.W. theory. I discuss ways to invest and grow employees and leaders in any organization, which is key to long-term success. I will help you identify ways for you and your employees to recognize your personal Greatness, Resiliency, Opportunities and Wisdom.
This is an all-day training for business owners and key leaders. The training focuses on building a customized training and leadership development program to fit any organization. This class is for decision makers and key leaders who want to increase productivity and employee “buy in” to develop an empowered, well-trained team.
W.A.T.E.R. (Weed by example, Accept your role, Take your team to the next level, Equip the heart, Recognize talent) is an all-day leadership development workshop for frontline managers and leaders. The curriculum is full of fill-in-the-blank takeaways and case studies utilized throughout.