Brett Lemcke is the president of the National Association of Landscape Professionals for 2016-2017 and vice president at R.M. Landscape, Hilton, New York.

Lemcke has been an active member of the association since joining in 1998. He started while a student at State University of New York (SUNY)-Cobleskill and competed in the National Collegiate Landscape Competition. Then he was chairman of the NCLC from 2010 to 2012.

At 35, the rising star in the landscape industry speaks with Turf about leadership issues and offers advice for those entering the industry.

TURF: What leadership style do you admire most?

LEMCKE: Someone who can rally a crowd. I respect leaders who listen and have relationships beyond business. It is important to be friendly and to show compassion.

TURF: Who are your leadership role models?

LEMCKE: My dad and learning from him in the business, as well as Jack Ingels, my adviser and professor at SUNY-Cobleskill. He introduced me to the industry and taught me to understand the importance of building relationships and how to network with professionals in the industry.

TURF: How are you continuing your education and professional development?

LEMCKE: My continuing education is through NALP. The reason I decided to grow the maintenance side of our business is because I saw what other members were doing. I am currently part of a peer group with industry consultants and I also work with an executive coach.

TURF: What leadership or business books are you reading?

LEMCKE: Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman, and Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal and Tantum Collins.

TURF: What advice would you give someone entering the industry?

LEMCKE: Understand how they can be of value. Tell me how you can provide solutions.

I think too many people are looking for jobs. I would like to know what you plan to do for us. In turn, I will make sure that you gain experience and have career mobility. Also, learn the business and figure out where you add value. And develop business acumen. If you understand what turns the clock, you will learn what can be done differently.

Finally, learn how to communicate. It takes time and you have to adapt to different types of communication — quickly and confidently.

TURF: What is the most exciting part of your job?

LEMCKE: On my toughest days, I still love my job. I enjoy driving passion, growing the company, inspiring people and putting processes in place.

I enjoy working with my dad. It’s a unique experience. Without a family dynamic, it is important for people to have a good relationship with co-workers.

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