Having been in the landscape industry for more than 30 years, Paul McDonough’s double-barrel experience includes both landscape industry service and supplier companies. His roles have run the gamut from lawn service technician to territory sales rep to sales vice president. Currently he serves as strategic account manager for Koch Agronomic Services, providing nutrient solutions for the horticulture, turfgrass, consumer lawn and garden and specialty agriculture markets.
McDonough’s notable leadership roles include committee chair of the National Association of Landscape Professionals‘ Government Affairs Committee, founding board member and past president of Project EverGreen and immediate past chairman of Ohio Professional Applicators for Responsible Regulation.
How would you describe your style of leadership and why does this work for you?
I strive for a collaborative leadership style. There’s an old saying about leaders: “You’re only as good as those with whom you surround yourself.” It’s rare that one person has all of the answers. Good leaders listen to those around them and use the people with the best knowledge for each situation.
How do you work at consistently becoming better at leadership?
It’s not something I consciously think about. I attempt to mirror others who I think are good leaders – people I see everyday who are able to accomplish much by inspiring and directing others. Ultimately, I believe it comes down to observing others and implementing a style that is both natural and comfortable.
Who are your leadership role models and why?
I’ve had several over the years in my personal life, the workplace and industry associations. The leader I currently look up to is Charles Koch, chairman of the board and CEO of Koch Industries. What is truly impressive is not just the company’s growth and profitability, but the way it does business. Koch Industries has a business philosophy called Market-Based Management (MBM). And very critical to the application of MBM is a culture centered on 10 guiding principles, including integrity, humility and respect. This articulates the way Koch Industries expects employees to conduct business, emphasizing shared values and beliefs.
What leadership books inspire you and why?
Books about our nation’s leaders, such as Abraham Lincoln, have been inspiring. More recently, books about the Army Rangers, Navy SEALS and similar groups have been inspirational. I enjoy reading about people who are willing to put forth great effort with great humility.
What have you done as a leader that gives you pride and why?
When I was a sales leader, I took great pride in helping my team members develop their skills and achieve their sales objectives and financial incentives.
What leadership words or quotes inspire you most and why?
I once had someone tell me, “Great leaders inspire volunteer followership.” I think that says it all. Good leaders don’t demand followers; they simply facilitate it.
If you were to give young leaders one piece of advice what would that be?
Learn the strengths and weaknesses of those you lead and utilize their talents accordingly. Also, know your own strengths and weaknesses, seek assistance where you are lacking and lead with confidence, humility and respect.