Jim McCutcheon, CEO of HighGrove Partners in Atlanta and winner of the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Lifetime Achievement Award, sat down with NALP past president and Bartlett Tree ExpertsScott Jamieson to answer a few insightful questions at the NALP Leaders Forum event this week.

Q: How would you describe your leadership style?

A: Early on, I was a micromanager. I had a consultant working with us when I was around 32 years old and he said, ‘Do you want to make it to 40? Then you can’t keep going at this pace.’ It was difficult at first, but I’ve learned to delegate and trust the people who work with me. Each and every one of them can do their jobs well, and I can’t do them as well as they can. So I give them vision, direction and resources and let them go. We’re a much better company because of that.

Q: What’s most misunderstood about Jim McCutcheon?

A: I’m a passionate guy and when I get into an idea, I can come on strong. Sometimes I think that makes folks think I’m trying to cram something down their throats, but I’m not. I love vigorous debate.

Q: What would you like people to say about you?

A: If everybody on my last day could say he did one thing to help me or made us better in one way, I’d be happy. I’m a giver and I don’t say no very often.

Q: What advice would you give to folks on how to get involved and get engaged in the industry?

A: Just ask. In 1995, I reached out to an industry professional and he let me come and talk with him and I learned a ton. I have a hell of a network across the country of people I can turn to because I met new people and wasn’t afraid to ask them questions.

Q: What’s next for Jim McCutcheon?

A: I don’t know that I’ll ever retire. I have fun working and finding new ideas and ways to change and improve HighGrove.