How to Become a Better Crew Leader

"Be more" without losing love for your job

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Some say that the role of crew leader has changed in recent years. I would argue that the core role, "to lead a crew," has not changed. What has changed is the crew leader's willingness to fulfill their position, as opposed to just their own ability and personal motivation.

The demands and pace of business has caused crew leaders to often take actions and make decisions that are not in alignment with their reason for getting into the Green Industry in the first place. It's likely that you are where you are today because you like being outdoors and working with your hands. You like doing quality work that you can be proud of. You feel you can make a positive impact on the environment.

Now you're being told to be more productive, be more customer-focused, and be more demanding of your crew. This demand to "be more" can lead you to believe that you have to "be less" in the areas that matter most to you. But it doesn't. In fact, it can't.

If you lose your passion you yourself are lost

If people believe they are being asked to do more of the things that are outside of their comfort zone, it's easy for them to stop enjoying what they are doing. If they stop enjoying what they are doing, it reflects on their personal motivation, performance and results they achieve.

At a time when a crew leader must position him or herself to achieve more, in a way they achieve less—and a downward spiral ensues.

How to avoid the downward spiral and meet the new demands of your job

1. Reconnect with what you really like about being a part of the Green Industry. Go as far as writing it down and posting it where you can see it every day, such as on your refrigerator at home.

2. Help the crew you lead and other company employees by reminding them of what is great about this industry. Helping others is the greatest way to find fulfillment and self respect.

3. Don't be negative and/or destructive. Be aware of instances when you engage in one of the following destructive actions:

  • Justify cutting corners or compromising quality because you "don't have enough time."
  • Dehumanize the customer, your crew or other co-workers by giving them a faceless title like they, those people, the lunatic salesperson or things much worse than that.

4. Don't think that people don't care what you do, because they do. Minimizing the importance of your actions by coming in late, not training or communicating, and displaying a poor attitude are all no-no's. Furthermore, deflecting responsibility—such as blaming someone else for your performance—is unbecoming of a leader. Blaming others will destroy your ability to lead because it will destroy your ability to believe in yourself.

5. Work unceasingly at personal growth and self improvement. As you commit to personal growth, some amazing outcomes will emerge:

  • You will reconnect with your real purpose for getting into the Green Industry and for becoming a leader.
  • You will learn to think creatively, beyond what you are currently doing, to find ways to achieve what you need to achieve while remaining connected to your personal values.
  • You will understand the value of training for yourself and for your crew. Furthermore, you will begin to benefit from putting consistent, productive training processes in place (such as the Working Smarter Training Challenge).
  • You will receive recognition for your efforts from both the customer and the company you work for. This will enable you to remain inspired—allowing you to remain on the path you have chosen.
  • You will naturally fulfill your place in your family and community because you believe so much in the personal values you have stuck to.
  • You will start sleeping a lot better because you'll know that you're helping your crew do the best job possible based on the customer's expectations and your employer's demands.

Leading a crew is a responsibility that should never be taken lightly. Likewise, people in the crew leader position should never believe that they will succeed simply because they've been put in this position. It takes work, but you'll find it to be well worth it.