Tom Barrett is a skillful corporate growth and change agent with more than 30 years of landscape industry experience. Barrett’s leadership drives corporate revenue growth through change and innovation for business start-ups, corporate expansions and divisional turnarounds.
As a business coach, Barrett works with CEOs, business owners and executives to help them make better decisions, take action and drive results. For the past 20 years, Barrett has been serving as principal of Green Water Infrastructure, a Cincinnati-based consulting company that integrates water resources in sustainable site development.
Some of the more interesting affiliations Barrett has established include advisory board member of Vorovoro Island, senior executive mentor for Brand Launch and board of directors of Hoosier Environmental Council. Earlier in his career, Barrett held top sales and marketing positions at Kenney Corp, Ewing Irrigation Products and Rain Bird.
My leadership style is collaborative and team-based. Relationships cannot be controlled in a formal system, but are developed over time in a series of deep interpersonal connections. In any business environment, relationships are the key to successful execution.
I love working with an organization that is on the edge of creating major change. Usually, the company has found itself stuck, realizing that doing things the same as in the past will not achieve the next level of success. They need to do something different, but they do not know what “different” is. I develop a tremendous amount of self-satisfaction in working with a company that achieves a breakthrough in both its thinking and culture.
I am strategic in my approach to leadership. I can usually cut through the noise and clutter. Where others see clutter, I can see patterns. I use this, together with my ability to build a collaborative environment, to deliver results that could not be achieved by any one individual’s effort, taking a company from good to great.
Who are your leadership role models and why? I have a tremendous respect for Warren Buffett. I started following this CEO of Berkshire Hathaway in the early 1970s because the stock was the highest publicly traded stock in the world. I like to find extremely successful outliers, paying attention to what they do, and discovering what makes them different from others. Over the past 40 years in business, I have closely followed Buffet and found his wit and wisdom to be a priceless guide through business and life.
I am always reading books. It’s easier to learn from others (and their mistakes) then to try to invent it yourself. Currently I am reading a lot of Seth Godin, Chris Brogan and Jay Baer. I think there’s a cultural revolution moving across America. The cultural revolution, as described in Godin’s “Tribes,” is correct in the assessment that the web is changing relationships at an astonishing pace. But, as amazing as the world is today, it still takes individuals to create and provide leadership that comes from people just like you and me — people with passion, that create a vision, develop a following and make real change.
The quote that has inspired me the most is the Marianne Williamson quote from “A Return to Love:” “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Each of us has the ability to achieve more than we ever thought possible. We have the ability to “level up” and do work that matters.
Culturally, in American business, we’ve developed into a hyper-competitive business environment. A business environment that Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, describes as “Tough-mindedness, a good trait, was replaced by meanness and greed — both terrible traits. Rewards became perverted. The richest people made the most mistakes with the least accountability.” This “winner take all” mentality is not sustainable and only works for a few. The future cannot be built without integrity and continuous learning.