Staying Proactive & Profitable in the Busy Spring

May 9, 2023 | client, Growth Tips, Leadership, Management, Peer Groups, Planning, Strategy, Time Management

As I work with landscape business leaders across the continent, I see people who are either “proactive and strategic”, or “reactive and highly tactical”.

However, the proactive ones will have a more-profitable and more-fulfilling year.

We can put these leaders into 3 categories.

1. In the weeds: Those who are deep in the details, putting out fires, reactive in their day to day duties. They are sucked into client and employee issues; and doing “the work” themselves.

2. Proactive in nature: These leaders plan ahead each day and week, delegating duties, and developing their leaders to be better at decision making and planning.

These companies are setting up good systems, managing by metrics, and taking time to innovate with new technologies and services.

3. Making the shift: The third category are those leaders who are making the “shift”; pulling themselves out of the reactive cycle, and shifting into a more proactive executive leadership mode.

Which of the three describe you?

I am reminded of this theme as I work with a new person on our Jeffrey Scott team. He came from a more reactive environment where his day was filled with a certain amount of chaos and fires.

He now has to re-learn to use his proactive planning skills.

Your challenge: Model proactive behavior, and develop your team to do the same.

You (every company) needs crew leaders and supervisors who are proactive planners to some degree. These are skills that can be modeled and taught.

Even more so, you need executive leaders who plan ahead and get in front of problems.

However, if your top leaders are reactive, it’s hard for your front line leaders to learn or practice these skills.

Better planning and smoother execution start at the top

Regards, Jeffrey Scott

P.S. Here is a short assessment for you and your executives to determine your strengths and weaknesses in terms of proactivity.


Are you “good” busy or “bad” busy?

Here is a list of four types of good-busy and five types of bad-busy.

Score yourself on each of these (1. In a good spot, 2. Doing better or 3. Not doing well at all.) and figure out where you need to focus.

1. Focused busy

This is means you are going after a goal, and strictly focused on executing that goal. It means your team knows what their goals are, and they know what the important priorities are for hitting those goals.

2. Productive busy

This means you and your leaders are getting a lot done with your time, by following the 20-80 rule. You are doing the work that is most important (the 20 – 30 %) and delegating (or simply not doing) the rest (the 70 – 80%).

3. Planning busy

This means you are getting “ahead” of issues, by daily and weekly “quiet” planning of your time, and quarterly planning with your team to get everyone focused on priorities.

You use meetings to keep people accountable, and you use your peer group to keep you accountable.

4. Innovating busy

This means you are growing in a new direction, adding new services, and busy figuring them out and selling them. This means your team is handling the day to day, so you can focus on the future. This focus drives tomorrow’s profits.

5. Reactive Busy

This means you are reactively responding to emails, phone calls and knocks on the door. You are reacting to the “urgent” agendas of other people. It may also mean your leadership is weak, and you are in a state of followship.

6. Fire-fighting Busy

This means you have complaints and emergencies that are consuming your time, or big quality or contract completion issues. It’s related to “reactive” busy, but worse.

7. Constantly-changing busy

This is the “attention deficit disorder” busy. This is due to not following through on your plans, and constantly creating new plans and new directions. You thrive on chaos, and you may be creating chaos for others.

8. Doing-double-work busy

This means your systems force you to do double administrative work, or even triple work. This is the kind of busy work that stops a company from growing.

9. Too-much-of-a-good thing busy

This means you are simply working on too many projects, unfocused and without great results. You could be productive if you scale back and prioritize.

Everyone is busy: though many people are not the right kind of busy.

So….how do you score?

The lower the better. A score of 9 is the best, and 27 is the worst.