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Book Endorsements

Growing Weeders into Leaders 

By Jeff McManus

In his “how to” guide, Jeff McManus, gives a perspective on service and leadership from the ground up. As a member of the leadership team at Chick-fil-A, part of my job is to help define the future of our business. We have addressed the fact that success is all about succession, and that in order to ensure future success you need to be constantly growing the leaders around you. One thing we have learned throughout my tenure at Chick-fil-A is that there’s a big difference between locating leaders and cultivating them. Jeff reminds us that all leaders can be cultivated with the right pruning and nurturing…this book will serve as a guide for doing just that.  Perfect for all current and future leaders.

—Dan T. Cathy,
CEO, 
Chick-fil-A, Inc.


Refreshing, innovative and creative are the words that came to mind as I read this book.  Growing Weeders into Leaders gently shows the positive end result of trusting, respecting and complimenting people who are doing ‘manual’ labor.  As a valued department at Ole Miss, Jeff’s team has proven their ability to ‘make a place look loved’ and to attract world-class athletes, faculty and other top-notch talent to that campus as a result.

—Dan Miller,
New York Times bestselling author,
48 Days to the Work You Love


After helping transform the Ole Miss campus from a former beauty into what is frequently hailed as the country’s most stunning, Jeff McManus knows a few things about building an award-winning team. Far more than a dry collection of management tips, Growing Weeders into Leaders is filled with personal experiences and insights aimed at empowering employees and helping them unleash their own creativity and drive. No matter what business you’re in, Jeff can help your team reach its full potential.

—Jeffrey S. Vitter,
Chancellor and Distinguished Professor,
University of Mississippi


I love the intentional approach of this book. Perhaps unintended, but Jeff has it figured out – our society has made ‘leadership’ too big and way too complicated.  Thus he puts us through a simple approach that people come first.  His leadership has helped to propel our university from good to great – in not only physical beauty but in attitude and culture.  I love working with Jeff and his team.  I am glad he has chosen to make his approach available and accessible in such an enjoyable read.

—Ross Bjork,
Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics,
The University of Mississippi 


For me, being in the landscape industry, Growing Weeders into Leaders is a true treat.   I could not put it down and actually read it twice!  What you will find in this book is a gifted writer with an ability to simplify what so many folks try and make difficult.  You will be truly inspired by the natural way Jeff shares leadership lessons for growing successful leaders in any industry. Great book!

—Cary Avery, CGM
University of California, Davis


For generations stories have been used to give meaning to who we are and what we believe in. Throughout “Growing Weeders into Leaders” Jeff McManus brilliantly uses the art of storytelling to describe the many complex concepts of positive leadership.  This book is rich with examples of how an effective leader empowers others and encourages them to lead.  Great work!

—Katie Wilson,
Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, 
USDA
Former Executive Director of the National Food Service Management Institute


Growing Weeders into Leaders isn’t, as it first appears, a book about leadership development in the landscape industry.   The practices shared in the book are relevant to any type of organization.  With our facilities in the same town, my team and I have benefitted greatly from Jeff’s teachings and we are stronger because of it.

—Mark McAnally,
Quality Manager, Caterpillar HPE, 
Oxford, MS


Growing Weeders into Leaders reminds us that great leadership is a quest for excellence, not only in ourselves, but in our teams and in our work.  Jeff McManus has coached my colleagues in the classroom on how to create winning teams, and now he has brought that same leadership wisdom to the page in this easy to digest book, full of true-life leadership stories.  No matter the industry, the lessons transfer seamlessly, a gentle reminder that at the end of the day, leadership is all about investing in people.

—Bethany Cooper,
Human Resources Business Partner, 
FNC, Inc.


Jeff is an inspirational leader, speaker and writer.  Growing Weeders Into Leaders is a straightforward approach to problem solving and methods to grow individuals into a team.  Jeff is an excellent teacher of new leaders and is quick to encourage experienced leaders to trust our instincts. Sometimes we just need reminding of the principles that have positive results and keep moving forward.

—Susanne Woodell, CGM,
Historic Gardens Manager, BILTMORE


I found Growing Weeders Into Leaders an inspiring and accurate reflection of the challenges involved with managing the landscape and facilities of a comprehensive higher education institution.  I enjoyed and appreciated Jeff’s candor and innovation in cultivating leadership within his organization.  His work clearly demonstrates the impact of genuine, caring leadership on the development and success of an organization.  This is a must-read for anyone or any industry looking to impact the lives of others in a positive way!

—Dr. Chris Crenshaw,
Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning Management,
The University of Southern Mississippi


Jeff is a man of integrity and a leader in the landscape industry.  Having met several of Jeff’s team members through the years it is obvious this book is based on real life activity in the landscape department at the University of Mississippi.  I have been in the landscape industry for over 40 years and I learned things from reading this book that I can easily use – as well as some things that will require a bit more planning and discipline.   Everyone in a leadership role would benefit from following the principles presented in this book.

—John A. Burns, CGM, Landscape Manager, Past President, Professional Grounds Management Society, University of Texas at Austin


I have been coming to Oxford for the better part of 40 years, and can speak firsthand to the tremendous improvement that the University of Mississippi’s campus has seen under the leadership of Jeff McManus. It is no accident that the campus has been recognized as most beautiful on five separate occasions, and when you read this book, you’ll see why. Jeff’s leadership principles and philosophies discussed in this book can take any size business or workforce and turn them into a truly unified team that is highly motivated to achieve success. I have had the privilege of hearing Jeff speak on two separate occasions and I highly recommend him – the only thing better than the book is Jeff in person!

—Ward Toler, Market Manager, C Spire


My good friend, Jeff McManus, has planted in words in the same incredible way he has planted in the grounds of Ole Miss, making the invisible become visible, allowing others to see the rich talent he has been given.  From the landscape architect of the most beautiful campus in America comes now the author inspiring us to become all we can be in the fields God has placed us.

—Lee Paris,
CEO, 
Meadowbrook Capital, LLC.


Jeff’s book may be about landscape management, but the techniques he employs and teaches are transferrable to any industry or team.  McManus teaches a system with identifiable objectives, measurement techniques, and easily communicated team principles.  This is a book for leaders at any stage of their development.

—Campbell McCool,
Former CEO, 
McCool Communications,
Founder and Developer of Plein Air


As a fan of books geared toward insight and professional advancement, I greatly enjoyed Jeff McManus’ Growing Weeders into Leaders.   His stories and self-reflection guide us in understanding how we are growing our own teams.  You might think the world of commercial real estate brokerage would operate differently from a landscape team, but Jeff has shown me that in all cases, in all businesses, we are very much the same.  Jeff’s work with my team has utilized the guiding principles addressed in his book and both are clear, insightful guidance toward professional development in any industry.

—Elizabeth J. Randall,
President, 
Randall Commercial Group


In Growing Weeders into Leaders, I recognize the home-grown values and principles that, when implemented, can inspire and guide an organization and the people in it.  Jeff tells the story of a smart, hardworking team of men and women who, in the words of one of our greatest story-tellers, William Faulkner, not only endured, but prevailed in their pursuit of excellence.

—Sam Haskell,
Former Worldwide Head of Television, 
William Morris Agency,
National Best-selling Author, Philanthropist


In Growing Weeders Into Leaders the author carefully and strategically aligns with all stakeholders from maintenance crews to football recruits to the University Chancellor. Then, with a specific plan of execution, McManus shares how the stakeholders rallied around a vision he had for Ole Miss. It’s truly a case study for any organization!

—Darryl W. Lyons,
CEO & Co-founder, 
PAX Financial Group
Author of Small Business Big Pressure: A Faith-based Approach to Guide the Ambitious Entrepreneur


Jeff McManus presents an engaging pathway to empowerment, growth, and leadership in “Growing Weeders Into Leaders.  Plucked from the landscape of experience, McManus writes from the heart, and with a heart for helping others achieve personal growth.  Just a small bit of time on these pages will enrich the landscape of your life and those around you. Good book, great lessons of life.  Make your day with a good read!

—Ed Meek,
President, 
New Media Lab LLC