‘The best leaders are coaches and the best coaches grow their own skills’

Posted On 04 Oct 2016
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people_joe-don-zetzscheby Joe Don Zetzsche

Spend time with me and you will quickly learn that I am a student of leadership, both to become a better leader myself, and to foster leadership in others — in my H-E-B coworkers, my floral industry colleagues and our industry’s next generation.

Every member of the mass-market floral industry faces challenges to find and train qualified, excited talent. I’m sure you and your company have experienced this firsthand. That’s why the Produce Marketing Association Floral Council has made professional development and leadership development a priority focus. To grow our businesses and our industry, we have to constantly work on ourselves, work on our teams, and work on our employees.

For my part, I believe the best leaders are coaches, and the best coaches are always focused on growing their skills. That’s why I make a point of taking opportunities to grow my skill set. What motivates you to grow your skills?

The PMA Floral Council and PMA floral staff are working to provide the mass-market floral industry with professional and leadership development in two ways — by hosting events that are specific to the floral sector or are designed for the fresh produce and floral industry in general, and by providing volunteer opportunities.

For example, at PMA’s Fresh Connections: Floral Anaheim in June we heard a preview of new industry benchmarking research, something our industry desperately needs to take our businesses to the next level as other store departments have done before us. That type of information will help us to grow as an industry, and individually as industry leaders. We are planning more Fresh Connections: Floral events in 2017.

The Floral Council and PMA staff have also made sure that there will be general professional development opportunities that apply to our floral community at Fresh Summit Oct. 14-16. Plus we will host a floral-specific Networking Reception on Oct. 15, and I hope to see you there.

In case it helps you, here’s how I make sure I get the most professional and leadership development value from Fresh Summit: Starting a few weeks beforehand, I will take a few opportunities to think through what I want to gain from it — what I want to see and do, what I want to learn, who I want to meet. I will go through the Fresh Summit website in detail to decide what I want to take in. By preplanning my time there, I’m sure I won’t miss anything.

I also encourage you to look into the leadership development programs offered by the Center for Growing Talent by PMA. CGTbyPMA hosts leadership development programs for industry women, young professionals, emerging leaders, mid-level leaders and senior executives. These programs are designed for the fresh produce and floral industry, and bring together people from across our supply chain.

Volunteering is another great way to develop your professional and leadership skills (not to mention your networks, as I wrote about previously). You may have already learned that volunteer projects let us exercise muscles we don’t get to exercise in our every-day work. Leadership development — of myself, and of others — is a big part of why I wanted to become a volunteer leader. I know the same is true for other Floral Council members. We know that we are all stronger individually, our teams are stronger, and our industry is stronger because we interact and work together.

As you consider industry volunteer opportunities, please consider volunteering with the PMA Floral Council. You will get to work with folks from different professional and personal cultures, toward a big, common goal such as changing domestic consumption of flowers in the United States.

If that’s not enough motivation to join in, consider being a part of this: The mass-market floral industry is poised to take our businesses to the next level of professionalism, as other departments in our stores are already doing. We can change how others view us, and how we view ourselves, by learning trends and benchmarking ourselves, by networking to grow personally and professionally, and by committing to becoming new and better leaders.

While I will be turning over my gavel as Floral Council chair at Fresh Summit, I’m not walking away from my volunteer leader role at PMA. We still have a lot left to do to get more flowers in the hands of more Americans every day. I look forward to learning and growing along with you as we work together to achieve that goal.

This is the third and final guest column in a series that describes how the Produce Marketing Association’s Floral Council and staff are working to address three key business priorities of the mass-market floral industry: research on consumer and industry trends and its business implications, networking, and professional and leadership development. Joe Don Zetzsche is director of floral and BLOOMS Shops for H-E-B and PMA’s Floral Council chair. He can be contacted at Zetzsche@heb.com

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