Building teams in tree work


New Member
Ive seen my skill set grow over the last couple years as an arborist, and that’s great.
It would be a real achievement to become the greatest climber who ever lived, work the gnarliest tree and win competitions; all the people would know it.... yeah right.

The thing that’s bigger and has more meaning to me right now is the element of team spirit and dynamic in the crew I lead every day.

If anyone has advice or resources on leading a crew with sanity and respect, I’m all ears.



Well-Known Member
A few books that come to mind that are more leadership based books that talk a lot about working with other people and managing other people:
Laslo Bock- Work Rules
John Maxwell ( he has a bunch to choose from...) - Leadership 101; The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.


Well-Known Member
Todd Kramer did a great presentation at last years tree expo, contact him see if he can send you some of his slide show. Not sure of his username on here but he’s on Instagram send him a DM


Active Member
I’ve spent 14 years leading people and I’ve realized that there is no solution that fits everybody. Different people need different leadership styles to maximize their effectiveness. But the longer a group stays together the more similar their ideal leadership style becomes.

Providing purpose and direction while letting them own their task is always a good start for me. Most important is leading by example, don’t ask somebody to do something you won’t do and don’t take the line that “Foreman don’t do that.” I’ve seen that many times in the tree industry and it frequently leads to crew members becoming increasingly annoyed by foreman who refuse to ever pick up a rake. People like that have no business leading.

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...Trying to convince people who risked their lives at work for peanuts to work harder and be this way or that, do this this way, don't do that! Wow, I will surely pay in this life or the next for being a complicit slave driver in a capitalist anti human pyramid scheme.
If the person is skilled, sure they might not need the level of attention someone else would and might have an alternate, yet equally effective method than what you had in mind to complete a task. But, if they are unskilled, how else are they going to learn the right way without direction?


New Member
Some people I have worked for just have an instinct for what’s going on. I always got the feeling that they were a part of the crew rather than an outside force manipulating the project


Well-Known Member
Some people I have worked for just have an instinct for what’s going on. I always got the feeling that they were a part of the crew rather than an outside force manipulating the project
Those individuals that have that instinct are the ones you want on your crew as a leader. They are the ones that you don’t have to crack the whip every time there is t brush at the chipper and they are on their phone! Their the ones that seek out something to do when it’s not there. Their the ones that make the “foreman” look good. And a good foreman will stand for his crew and back them up in their decisions.
A good leader is going to instill that instinct and train/reward this type of behavior. On a good crew, sometimes it may be difficult for an outside person to tell who is leading and that’s how it should be. It’s important to mention as well there is a difference between training members and leading members. Teaching someone the “ropes” is a necessity of our job, and on our crew everyone has the authority to teach anyone things that will help them complete their tasks.
The foreman is only the starting force for the job and the one responsible to the “man” for its quality completion, otherwise a crew should just flow!


Active Member
As an owner operator I have found that respect is the greatest tool.
Having the utmost respect for your crew and having your crew respect you and their workmates makes things work.
I run my business a bit like a football team, I’m the coach/captain not the “boss” I’m the first out of the truck in the rain and the last person on site, I push my self to work harder and smarter than my crew in the hope that they will follow my lead.
Taking the boys and their wives/girlfriends out for a family dinner every month or so to show our appreciation for making the business work the way it does.
Involving the crew in decision making, equipment purchases etc so they know that their input matters.


New Member
All good pointers here.

I have noticed that if my boss doesn’t seem to have a deepening passion for trees, I don’t value their direction as much. If it’s all about making them feel big I run into problems.


Well-Known Member
To me this is a crucial topic. Everyday at work, the group dynamic of the crew is going to dictate your job satisfaction. If your crew is dysfunctional, you are probably going to regret it.
I am one of two crew leaders, but the two of us have pretty different styles. He is strict and I am more easy going. He has the most experience at our company, but we both have to go get our jobs done with inexperienced workers at different levels of competency. The difficult part of my leadership role is trusting those guys to help get the job done without throwing them in the deep end and without getting pissed that i have to do almost everything myself.
So i do my best to teach and find opportunities to get them otj training.