A Choice of Two Roads

A Choice of Two Roads

by Danny Summers

At first glance, the image above may bring to mind a poem know by most of us... "The Road Not Taken", by Robert Frost. Frost, an American poet in the early 1900's, initially published "The Road Not Taken" in England before it was published in the United States. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American word-smithing, Frost frequently wrote about settings from nature and life in New England.

"The Road Not Taken" was first published in America in the August 1915 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, and later published as the first poem in the 1916 poetry collection, Mountain Interval. Its central theme is the divergence of paths, both literally and figuratively. The poem ends with...

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

The idea of this message comes from an observation I have made over the last 12 years of being involved in The Garden Center Group and interacting with Garden Center Owners.

I have observed two distinctly different approaches to management by Owners (or General Managers). In recent years, I have used the following two images to illustrate the two management styles, hence – A Choice of Two Roads.


The first management style is what I call "The Gatekeeper." This approach is when the Owner/Manager may be the only person who is engaged in The Group, Group Programs and our peer-sharing activities – as well as other outside industry activities. Some of these Centers may have a few additional staff subscribed or engaged but overall, it is this Owner/Manager who participates. This Owner/Manager receives most everything and then decides who in the organization needs to receive bits and pieces of details.

I think one of the very best illustrations of "The Gatekeeper" is the Wizard of Oz. If you grew up like I did watching this classic every fall, you know he was first seen as a brash guard who was hesitant to let Dorothy and her band of new acquaintances into The Emerald City gates as they desperately needed to "see the Wizard." The image above was when he said, "But nobody can see the great Oz" in that high-pitched raspy voice.

We didn't know who he really was until later, when Dorothy's little dog Toto, pulled back the curtain where The Wizard was pulling all the levers to create a bigger-than-life image he had created. It was only then that we saw the more timid-side of his character. At this point it was obvious the Wizard was overworked, trying to keep everything going (and everyone in awe of the bigger-than-life Wizard in the public view).

The second management style is the "Team-Builder" and I believe this style is best illustrated by featuring Vince Lombardi, head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967. Lombardi never had a losing season as head coach in the NFL, compiling a regular-season winning percentage of 73.8% (96–34–6), and 90% (9–1) in the postseason for an overall record of 105 wins, 35 losses and 6 ties.

My very best memory of Vince Lombardi was during the infamous "Ice Bowl" in 1967 when his Packers beat Tom Landry's Dallas Cowboys (my favorite team at the time) at the Packers' Lambeau Field during sub-freezing temps for the NFC championship. The Packers went on to win their second consecutive Super Bowl. Following Lombardi's death in 1970 at age 57, the NFL named the Super Bowl Trophy in his honor... The Lombardi Trophy.

The approach needed to create a winning team requires encouraging and allowing each player to be the very best they can be and all coming together in one place, one moment, and one game (at a time). This "Team-Builder" wants to develop each of his players to their fullest potential.

A stark contrast in this Choice of Two Roads is the Gatekeepers are often the very ones who say...

"I can't do any more"...or
"I'm working too hard at this"...or
"I can't keep this pace up"...or
"I'm working myself to death."

The "Team-Builders" are able to see success through their team and each of their team members. Their team members see themselves as part of the greater success and gain confidence and are then capable of doing more. I am sure John Kennedy could give us some inspiring words on this subject, just as he did during The Fall Event 2023. He often uses sports analogies to illustrate his training approaches.

Here's the most important point to this message for our Owners/Managers...

What is your management style now?

And... what management style do you want?

If any of the above comments seem familiar and you see yourself as more of a Gatekeeper, it's time to change. It is a change for the better... for you, for your Center, and for every team-member you have. There is truly... A Choice of Two Roads and you should want to be able to repeat Robert Frost's last line...

"And that has made all the difference!"

If you would like to read (or hear) Robert Frost's great work... "The Road Not Taken"... Go HERE ... and enjoy.


Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. If you have any trouble logging into The Group WebSystem, please let me know. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others? Need help subscribing? Let me know so I can show you how you can sign up.
Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!

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Comments on "A Choice of Two Roads"

Comments 0-5 of 1

Paul Stranberg - Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Danny, Great message this week. I choose the Road of Team Building because it is the only road to success. I practice servant leadership shard by John Maxwell "Leadership Promises for Every Day". Thanks, Paul Stranberg

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