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Jeff McManus - Growing Weeders into Leaders

145: Jeff McManus: I had to start thinking what they wanted

Jeff McManus Show Notes Page

Jeff McManus started a new job in a new town and was trying to understand and learn everything. One night while driving home after his night class, Jeff wrecked his car after falling asleep at the wheel. In the hospital, he realized things needed to change. That’s when Jeff came to realize that he must totally shift his thinking. That’s when he enabled himself to move onward and upward faster.

Jeff was born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, in Douglasville, Georgia.  He was the youngest of 3.  His older brother Craig McManus own his own landscaping company in Douglasville, Ga. And his sister, Janet Russell flies with Delta, now for over 30 years.

Jeff’s Dad always gave his siblings and him the opportunity to work, especially on Saturdays.  There were no such things as playing little league sports.  They worked and learned the value of being honest, dependable and the pride of ownership.  Many times, the work involved landscaping, driving tractors and doing things outside.  After growing up doing this work, Jeff had no desire to do landscaping. But college and Dr. Ponder at Auburn University Horticulture Department showed him there were other occupations that suited him while using his experience and knowledge.

After Auburn, Jeff was employed by a large landscape contractor in Florida and worked at the Grand Cypress Resort Property in Orlando.  There he learned to have an eye for detail and became a student of how to grow tropical plants and motivate people.  He was recruited to work in N. Miami at the beautiful Turnberry Isle Resort in landscaping and work there for 11 years.  It was at Turnberry he had become a better leader of himself and others.  In 2000 he came to work at Ole Miss, a.k.a the University of Mississippi.  Today he serves as the Dir. Of Landscape, Airport and Golf Services.

Every day is about giving back and growing.  Jeff likes to grow plants, grow people and grow ideas.   Investing in growing leaders is a strong calling in his life. And is the author of Growing Weeders Into Leaders: Leadership Lessons from the Ground Up.

Jeff lives in Oxford, Mississippi and is married to Suzanne McManus for 23 years.  They have 4 sons, Samuel, Nathan, Joshua and Mark. 3 in college and one in the 11th grade.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @JeffMcManus to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Get people to think beyond a menial task to something more meaningful.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet 

“If you don’t love what you do, let’s find what you do love.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet 

“Don’t think about everyday as a Monday.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet 

“Goals have got to be something you can put your hands around.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet 

“You’re tending to the garden of people.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet 

“Growing the culture was more important than the results.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet 

“Investing in our people is like preventative maintenance.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet 

“There’s a lot of pride and ownership that comes from developing people’s mindset.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet 

“When you find your passion, that’s where I want to be.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet 

“Become a student of learning, you’ll be able to equip yourself.” -Jeff McManus Click to Tweet  

Hump to Get Over

Jeff McManus started a new job in a new town and was trying to understand and learn everything. One night while driving home after his night class, Jeff wrecked his car after falling asleep at the wheel. In the hospital, he realized things needed to change. That’s when Jeff came to realize that he must totally shift his thinking. That’s when he enabled himself to move onward and upward faster.

Advice for others

Become a student of learning. Learn, listen and grow.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Mental barriers.

Best Leadership Advice

Take an inventory, work your inventory.

Secret to Success

Investing in others.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Reading others

Recommended Reading

Growing Weeders Into Leaders: Leadership Lessons from the Ground Up

Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others

Contacting Jeff McManus

Website: http://jeffmcmanusspeaking.com/

email: jeff [at] jeffmcmanus.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-mcmanus/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeffMcManus

Resources and Show Mentions

Developing a Better Place to Work

Increase Employee Engagement and Workplace Culture

Empathy Mapping

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

 

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

145: Jeff McManus: I had to start thinking what they wanted

Intro Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

 

The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotions. So move onward and upward faster by gaining significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your empathy mapping workshop you’ll learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improve customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to empathymapping.com to learn more.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader Legion, today I’m excited because I get the opportunity to talk to somebody who really understands the patience and the care that’s required in order to develop stronger leaders. 

 

Jeff McManus was born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia in Douglasville, Georgia. He was the youngest of three. His older brother Craig owns his own landscaping company in Douglasville, Georgia and his sister Jeanette Russell flies with Delta now for over 30 years. Just dad always gave his siblings and him the opportunity to work especially on Saturdays there were no such things as playing Little League sports they worked and learned the value of being honest, dependable and the pride of ownership many times the work involved landscaping, driving tractors and doing things outside. After growing up doing this work, Jeff had no desire to do landscaping but college and Dr. Ponder at Auburn University Horticulture Dept. showed him there were other occupations that suited him while using his experience and knowledge. After Auburn, Jeff was employed by a large landscape contractor in Florida and worked at the Grand Cyprus Resort property in Orlando where he learned to have an eye for detail and become a student of how to grow tropical plants and motivate people.

 

He was recruited to work in North Miami at the beautiful Turnberry Owl Resort in landscaping and worked there for almost 11 years. It was at Turnberry he became a better leader of himself and others. In 2000 he came to work at Ole Miss the University of Mississippi. Today he serves as the director of landscape, airport and golf services. Every day is about getting back and growing, Jeff likes to grow plants, grow people and grow ideas. Investing and growing leaders is a strong calling in his life. Jeff currently lives in Oxford Mississippi and is married to Suzanne for 23 years. They have four sons Samuel, Nathan, Joshua and Mark, three in college and one in the 11th grade. Jeff McManus, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Jeff McManus:    Whoo-hoo, I’m ready.

 

Jim Rembach:   I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

 

Jeff McManus:    Well, I love to grow things. I love growing plants but I’ll really love growing people who grow plants and I love to grow ideas. I love to see people go beyond the barriers that they have already set in their mind and think of their own limitations.

 

Jim Rembach:   I had the opportunity to look through your new book, Growing Weeders Into Lleaders—Leadership Lessons from the Ground Level and I really enjoyed one time when you were talking about a situation where you had met up with the Chancellor of Ole Miss and that was Dr. Robert Khayat. And you talked about a question that you had asked him about vision and getting people to go along with it and he gave you four basic steps that you need to follow. You said, know who you are know who you want to be get buy-in from everyone and allow for honest and open feedback and disagreement at any time. And he also added something about setting goals and he said, don’t set small goals and don’t get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself and so many people do. So, obviously that’s made a huge impact on you. But when you start thinking about actually having Weeders and turning them into leaders, how does all that fit?

 

Jeff McManus:    Well, it’s the mindset of what are we here for? And it’s to get people to think beyond just a menial task of maybe trimming shrubs or whatever the task is in anybody’s occupation it ties to something bigger and more meaningful. My job as a leader is to connect those dots to help them see the bigger picture to realize they have purpose and to grow that passion for what they’re doing and so that they’re tremendously effective and do that with excellence. So, I like to remind people especially when I work in here is if you don’t love what you do let’s find what you do love so that you can enjoy every day and not dread Mondays. Don’t think about every day is a Monday and oh my goodness I’ve only got 30 years until I can retire and enjoy what you’re doing, that’s the whole mindset of getting people, maybe over the hump mentally, they really love what they’re doing.

 

Jim Rembach:   As you were saying that I started thinking about maybe situations where people get goals or the thought of goals quite confused because the way that you explained it was quite different than I think the way that most people kind of execute on goals. I was reading a story talking about female leaders versus male leaders and they were talking specifically about goal-setting. And they were saying how men often have a tendency to create goals that are just too far out there. People talk about—challenge people and give them a stretch goal. And they were saying that, men kind of push things so far that it becomes a situation where it undermines their ability to get people to move forward or like there is no way we’re going to get there. They say females are a little bit more realistic in their goal-setting and that often times they have people that they could carry along with them to a much greater rate and faster degree and they get more accomplished because they are unrealistic with their goal-setting.

 

Jeff McManus:    That’s true. We have some goals inside that we’re trying to accomplish. We have daily goals that we’re trying to do and seasonal goals, monthly goals all here in our organization but goals have got to be something you can put your hands around something you can see something you can put a checkmark by but that vision, that vision may not ever fully come about. And so what our vision statement is cultivating greatness and what we’re doing is creating this beautiful campus so that when students come they know this where they want to be they want to grow here they want to develop here and then they’re going to go on and cure cancer they’re going to on and change the world they’re going to make this place better. We’re cultivating, growing it so that they can launch so to speak off this pad and do great things and we’re a small part of that. That’s the bigger vision of what we do. 

 

Jim Rembach:   There was also one thing that I read in the book to me that was just kind of totally hit home. It talked about how a pecan tree takes six to eight years for it to actually bear its fruit or the nut and you have to really think about that when you’re wanting to develop and grow your people. I think the really important point that hits home is that this isn’t something where I’m dealing with annuals, is it?

 

Jeff McManus:    No. I mean this is something you’re going to deal with for the long term it’s nurturing, it’s watering and it’s growing t’s just like growing plants and you got to do that with people and ideas. You’re always working it you’re tending the garden of people, you’re tending the garden of ideas and you’re really adding to that. If you’re not the one out there tending to it then things are going to get lost, weeds are going to take over and nature’s going to reclaim itself to chaos and it’s going to have an intentional plan. 

 

Jim Rembach:   When I start thinking about taking the weeders and growing them into leaders, I also started thinking about a lot of folks that you may have that you’re trying to nurture and thinking about it from a long-term perspective and you’re putting all your efforts and attempts in but they’re just a person who maybe doesn’t have a “can’t do” issue but they have definitely a “won’t do” issue. Sometimes you just want to yank that weed out and just discard it. How do you prevent not yanking them too soon and also knowing what that weeds never going to be able to lead? 

 

Jeff McManus:    I liked how you put that. You just can’t yank it out. Sometimes what we found is if you really want to grow good grass that is weed free you got to focus on growing the grass not the weeds. So you fertilize, you water, and you give it plenty of sunlight, grass will eventually choke out the weeds, the good healthy grass. It’s funny how that happens with humans too. As we started changing our culture and really started focusing on growing each other we wanted people to be successful we would give them knowledge, we would give them opportunities to be leaders, we  would give them opportunities to be accountable, things that just grew them well they got healthier they got stronger. Some of the folks that maybe you would identify and thinking of as a weed some of them left on their own because they felt more comfortable in another setting which was good for them but it was amazing how many people that you might think were weeds really were good healthy grass but they just needed some encouragement and they changed over they came back over to see the positive culture. It’s kind of those guys who sit on the fence and are just watching to see who’s going to influence them. If I wasn’t proactively watering and fertilizing then the weeds just took over and that those people tended to go that way. So, I found that growing the culture was much more important than the results I was getting. 

 

Jim Rembach:   I can start thinking about your business and it being and having that long-term view as well as how that absolutely fits in developing people and creating a culture it doesn’t happen fast it’s not an annual thing, right? Although you do have to pay attention to it annually it isn’t something that’s just going to be done within a single growing season. When I start thinking about many other types of organizations and industries and things like that time is not and is not their luxury. They have the pressure of competition, they have the pressure of making certain numbers in order to keep things flowing or meet the needs of maybe shareholders or internal constituents or even external constituents, how does a leader in those types environments make sure that they keep the right mindset and play for the long term? Because too many times they’re just focused in on the minute by minute and even second by second?

 

Jeff McManus:    You’re right on Jim, you’re right on with your remarks. What you find is leaders like Jack Welch who talked about the team that has the best employees usually wins. And so how do you get the best employees? You’ve got to invest in them. Just like taking care of the your equipment you can either service it, change the oil, sharpen the blades or you can just run it to death and it’s going to stop and you’re going to have to do something that’s going to cost you a whole lot more. So, we look at investing in our people is like preventive maintenance and it even takes them to a higher level. We’ve seen people outgrow these positions because we’ve invested in them and we really want them to be successful. If they can do more than what they’re doing here we want them to do we wanted to continue to grow. We’ve had people take other jobs and other areas, we’ve had them become managers and leaders of other departments. We feel like we’re an incubator to grow people’s greatness inside of them don’t let this job handcuff you if you’re created to do something else. But if you love this and this is where your passion and we want you to be the very best at it we want you to be the expert where people are coming to you and asking you about their plans asking you how you grow these things and they see themselves and all of a sudden is—Wow! I am the plant expert out here these are my plants and they take that ownership and that pride, it’s just a totally different mindset versus this is just a job.  

 

Jim Rembach:   For me when I lived in Memphis, not too far from where you are, when my wife and I first got married we lived on a corner house we actually were the second owners of a house we purchased it out of a state and it had quite an extensive amount of landscaping and so for me I put a big effort into trying to maintain it and also make it even better and I can tell you that so many people would just stop me as I was outside and give me compliments about  how the yard looked. And you know what? The amount of gratification, satisfaction all the things that go along with building a stronger well-being was something that—it was hard for me describe. I can only imagine that your folks how that can also make a huge impact on you being able to build an even stronger culture. 

 

Jeff McManus:    What you just said Jim is right on and this is what I teach to other businesses. When I’m working with them is creating that pride of ownership no matter what it is if you’re creating widgets be the best widget creator. We’re fortunate in landscaping just like in your yard everybody sees the results, sometimes when you’re working in a county not everybody can see your results just a few people but you get that gratification, we’re fortunate we can get that and people see the logo on the shirt that may have our department name on it or whatever we get treated like a rock star at the local grocery store like, oh, my you work there—because it does have a great reputation well that’s that pride of ownership. I don’t care where you work if you work at the Ritz Carlton it’s like it’s known for that service of, ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen, and that, it’s my pleasure. To me that’s a great, great mark of what of an employee should be and how they should be engaged in their workplace. So, there’s a lot of pride a lot of ownership and that comes with developing people’s mindset. 

 

Jim Rembach:   When we start talking about pride and ownership being able to build that strong culture, a lot of it is rooted in quotes because they’re help us focus quickly and maybe readjust. Is there a quote or two that you can share?

 

Jeff McManus:    Well, as you know Jim in my book that’s full of quotes, I’m a quote collector. I’m just thinking of one here, one of my favorite ones for me personally reminds me to keep being persistent. It’s from Napoleon Hill who wrote Thinking and Grow Rich. He wrote one of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat, So many times I’ve wanted to stop and that quote has kept me going it’s like this is the only temporary keep pushing, keep going and you will see the success. I remember when we were frustrated with the drama here the negativity in our department it’s like, oh my goodness, and I realized I had to change I had to start planning something positive in growing after ten years of being here took me that long to start really planting positive seeds, so don’t stop. That quote—temporary defeat, temporary defeat just keep persisting, I’m glad I.

 

Jim Rembach:   I think that’s a great message to send. That’s one of the downsides of being mindful and living in the moment is that—it’s temporary, right?

 

Jeff McManus:    That’s right. 

 

Jim Rembach:   You talked about this transition, you talk about you being able to deepen your roots and grow  others and to do that there’s a lot of humps that we have to get over in order for that to happen. Is there a time where you’ve had to get over the hump where we can all learn to grow better?

 

Jeff McManus:    Well, I think when I was in Miami working at the resort. I had just gone down there, I was 25 years old and I was the youngest person on the crew. It was a union and most of the guys had not been supervised in the last two or three years so they were pretty much just doing what they felt was right. Some of the guys weren’t really into the work they would clock in and go home come back and clock out and I mean just a lot of craziness and I was trying to get it all figured out and it was a really low point in my life. I was trying to learn the plant names, I was trying to learn to speak Spanish, I was trying to speak Creole, I was trying to—all these things learn the culture, I was just at my wit’s end. I had over hire, I hired more people to come work because I hadn’t done a good job on my due diligence on how many people we needed. Several of our contracts had fired us, our contractors had fired us because we up the rates because we hired more people and which caused me to have to lay off a lot of people. That was hard I’d lay off about 20 people and I realized I was affecting lives, I was affecting families the breadwinners I was laying them off and that was emotionally very, very hard it was probably one of the worst days of my life or days in my life. One night I was coming home from a night class, I was taking night classes at the local community college learning my plants of that area in South Florida, and I fell asleep at the wheel totaled out my car I ended up in the hospital. I ended up being fine just minor things it could have been a lot worse fortunately I had my seat belt on. I remember laying in that bed going there’s just got to be a better—I’m burning the candle on both ends. I’m going after it as much as I can I’m doing as hard as I can and I just pretty much at my wit’s end. I was broken, I was a broken person just trying to figure out how to do this. And the teachings of my dad and mom came back and that was of Zig Ziglar saying, you can get everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want. And I had to totally shift my thinking, shift my thinking and to start thinking, what is it that these people want? And so instead of me thinking about what I wanted I had to start thinking what they wanted and it totally changed me in how I started approaching it and started building collaboration with our team instead of me always working against our team.

 

Jim Rembach:   Thanks for sharing that story and glad you survived that and it wasn’t something that prevented you from doing all the great work that you’ve done. When I start looking at the work that you’re doing, in the industry and what you’re doing you start talking about rock stars, you’re becoming a rock star with what you’ve doing the accomplishment that you’ve made. You’ve been doing a lot of public speaking, you’ve written a book, you have four sons that I’m sure are contributing and helping others grow too, your wife, you’ve got a lot of things going on. If you’re to talk about a goal, what would be one of them?

 

Jeff McManus:    Well Jim, let me just put that in perspective. Every Tuesday I get to roll the garbage down to the edge of the curb and I get to roll the garbage can back on Tuesday night, so let’s keep that in perspective so thank you for your kind words. When you find your passion which is helping others and growing others that’s where I want to be in that spot working at a university, what a better place than to help grow others. And so I get to do that not only internally but externally so that’s been a fun launch for me as to get to do this with other companies as well—teaching them how to grow their people. 

 

Jim Rembach:   And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor. 

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award winning solutions guarantee to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with our colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Jeff, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Jeff McManus, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Jeff McManus:    I’m ready to hoedown. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Jeff McManus:    Mental barriers.

 

Jim Rembach:   What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

 

Jeff McManus:    Take an inventory, work your inventory. 

 

Jim Rembach:   What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success? 

 

Jeff McManus:    Investing in others.

 

Jim Rembach:   What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life? 

 

Jeff McManus:    Reading books. 


Jim Rembach:   What would be one book, and it could be from any genre, that you’d recommend to our listeners and of course we’ll put a link to Growing Weeders into Leaders, on your show notes page as well. 

 

Jeff McManus:    Becoming a Person of Influence, John Maxwell. Okay, Fast Leader Legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/JeffMcManus. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay Jeff, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. So, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? 

 

Jeff McManus:    Become a student of learning. Just learn, just grow, just continually to grow because every challenge you run into if you will learn, listen, and grow, read about it, listen to others you’ll be able to equip yourself and will be able to sustain whatever challenges you have. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Jeff it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with a Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you? 

 

Jeff McManus:    Absolutely, it’s been my pleasure, jeffmcmanusspeaking.com, have all my social media there that’s where I’m doing my blogs, would love to connect with your listeners. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Jeff McManus, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!

 

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster. 

 

END OF AUDIO. 

 

 

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