At some point in this postmodern life, individual greatness has lost its appeal for many of us. It has been commodified and relegated to those who are measured by shortest/longest times, impressive distances, highest heights, lowest lows, medals won, honors given…and again…Aristotle and Nike got it right…GREATNESS is what we can DO…every day…without recognition or reward, but for the satisfaction that comes from meeting the challenge, creating a team, and overcoming the odds. And that is what Growing Weeders into Leaders is about.
It is an entertaining and thoughtful look into the hearts and the workday lives of ordinary people - just like you and me - who tapped into their inner greatness in pursuit of a vision. Creating one of America's most beautiful college campuses, at Ole Miss, did not happen overnight and, inside these pages, Jeff McManus describes the joys, the defeats, the brilliant problem-solving and the "best laid plans" that are proven worthless...until the bigger picture is told. It is the "bigger picture" told from the ground level. Growing Weeders into Leaders takes you through the practical applications of empowering people to experience not only what it means to grow outstanding landscapes, but also to grow greatness in themselves and encourage it in others.
About the Authors:
Jeff McManus grows things. As the Director of Landscape Services at the University of Mississippi, he grows plants….he grows people….he grows ideas. Jeff is a problem-solver, understanding that doing more with less is a 21st century mandate.
After coming to the University in 2000, Jeff took on the challenge of managing a multi-million dollar landscaping beautification implementation project. Faced with a demand for excellence and high productivity, and a stagnant budget, Jeff knew that growing the people was critical to growing the plants. Through that experience, Jeff developed his approach to managing resources and developing personnel – his GROW-theory; a management and professional development approach based in the belief that all humans either strive for or have within them the elements of Greatness, Resiliency, Opportunity and Wisdom – they just need a fertile environment to GROW.
Taking his grounds staff, affectionately known as “weeders”, and developing them into “leaders” has been a joyous challenge that reaped acres of rewards in the form of national recognition by the Princeton Review, PGMS, Newsweek and every faculty, staff, student and visitor who has walked onto the Ole Miss Campus. Building on that momentum, Jeff has designed a professional development plan for his Weeders called Landscape University – a replicable training program that promotes the individual’s innate ability to GROW.
Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science in Landscape and Ornamental Horticulture from Auburn University and is a PGMS Certified Grounds manager, and Certified Arborist. His message rings true for any industry leader or manager looking to GROW a high-performance and dedicated workforce. Jeff has spoken at Caterpillar Inc, the Biltmore Estates, Leadercast, SRAPPA, Trent Lott Leadership Institute as well as the SEC Ole Miss Athletics. He has also worked with Memphis University, the University of Tennessee, the University of Georgia and private firms in developing their own training programs.
OK…this is big. Here’s a leader who understands the importance of weekly staff meetings—but has reduced his own talking time in meetings down to five percent. Incredible! -John W. Pearson
Beautiful in its simplicity, this lesson on leadership is much-needed in today's world of business, non-profits and more. I love how Jeff takes lessons from horticulture and applies them to people and leading others. One of my favorite moments is when Jeff shows us how working smarter is so much better than just working more hours and "working harder." One thing that struck me was the idea that everyone is a leader - or at least has the potential. I've always thought that some businesses just need "button pushers" and "warm bodies" and that's okay. In reality, every person in an organization has the potential - and the responsibility - to be a leader. Getting us all there and getting the buy-in is up to the experienced leaders - but we all have a part to play. That was a great epiphany. Thanks Jeff! -Dan Moyle