Ed Laflamme started his grounds maintenance business in 1971 with $700 he borrowed from his mom and pyramided that into the largest company in Connecticut. He sold it in 1999, and today he is a member of The Harvest Group, which he co-founded with Bill Arman in 2007. He is also author of “Green Side Up: Straight Talk On Growing And Operating A Profitable Landscaping Business!”
His latest venture, The Harvest Way Academy, is an online resource on video with downloadable guidebooks, where business owners and managers can learn “the eight buckets” of any service business.
Below he shares what tools he uses to become a better leader and how studying for the role and taking courses makes you aware of what kind of leader you are and how to use those strengths.
How would you describe your style of leadership and why does this work for you? My leadership style is consensus-driven and people-focused. Of course, I always had the final decision, but 95 percent of the time we all agreed on the course of action. This works because we are all “rowing the boat” in the same direction. It creates a positive culture; my people realized I valued their input and opinions.
How do you work at consistently becoming better at leadership? By studying the subject. In the process, I learned there is a difference between leaders and managers. Some owners are great managers, but there is no one leading the company, so although they can be successful, usually they don’t grow to their potential. If the owner is a great leader, the company can reach levels that surprise them, but then they need to find great managers to do the managing. Business owners must understand where their strengths lie.
Who are your leadership role models and why? I would say former President John F. Kennedy. During the Cuban missile crisis, after seeking advice from his advisers, President Kennedy was decisive and remained firm when he spoke to Nikita Khrushchev, the president of Russia. Despite the fact that nuclear subs were on the way to Cuba, President Kennedy didn’t back down. He remained calm, cool and collected under incredible pressure. Then, Khrushchev gave the order for the subs to turn around. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Now that’s leadership.
What leadership books inspire you and why? I like the books written by Jim Rohn and John Maxwell. I love Jim Rohn’s books because he walked the talk as a business person. A book written by Jack Welch called “Winning” is also good.
If you were to give young leaders one piece of advice, what would that be? Visit other larger companies—best-in-class companies. Join NALP and network. Make friends with owners throughout the country to learn how they lead their companies.
What leadership words or quote inspire you most and why? In one of his books, Jack Welch said, “Pounce on every day.” I have put my own twist on it with “Pounce on every day with reckless abandon.” Another one I love is, “When you limit yourself to what is comfortable, you limit yourself to what is possible.”
In a leadership capacity, where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I hope to be leading our group in awesome seminars in not only the U.S. but in other countries to help green industry owners be more successful in their businesses.