You Are Only As Good As Your People

One important item that a US Army Colonel told me when I was just a newbie second lieutenant, “you are only as good as your people.” My first assignment was a platoon leader in an engineering company. He made it very clear that my success would be directly tied to the overall success of my platoon. I can think back over my career and remember managers that frankly never understood that principle. Their success was probably at the expense of their team. I can safely say that that the Colonel’s one piece of advice I have carried with me for many years.

The Colonel went on deeper to give me a basic understanding of what that meant. He shared that my platoon has experiences that I don’t have. I need to learn to listen before acting. Lastly, never forget that you are here for them. Over my years of experience, I have learned to hone in on what I believe should go into that one principle.

  • Train Them Well: Provide every one of your people with the necessary training to be able to do their job in an outstanding manner. Average is not good enough. Many times we see situations or outcomes that look like they just go by. That is because we are okay with accepting just getting by or average work. I am competitive and average is not good enough. The military taught me that average could get someone killed. Be outstanding and your mission will be successful (and everyone will come home!).
  • Coach Them Up: Ensuring that they are prepared 100%. Giving them your expectations, the schedule and following up along the way. Recently I posted about coaching 3 and 4 year olds in soccer. Those players wanted to be win (even though we did not keep score) and they wanted their parents (and my) approval. Giving them the expectations and helping coach them before, during and after the game helped them to improve and do some pretty amazing things. This by no means is an easy task, but one that you need to really develop.
  • Listen To Them: It is so easy for managers and leaders to do all the talking. I think it is expected. A great leader listens more than they speak. As a newbie second lieutenant or a newbie manager, you don’t know everything. In fact, you probably don’t know much. Those eyes that are looking at you, do. Ask questions and make sure that you truly listen. The information you get could insure that you get it right.
  • Have Fun: Some of you are thinking, why is having fun in with you are only as good as your people? Well, that is simple. Think about how much time you spend at work. Quite a bit right? Think about your best job or activity that quickly comes to your mind. What is some thing that made that stand out in your head? For me, it is we worked hard and played hard together and accomplished some pretty incredible things. We had fun doing it!

If you are in a leadership position and don’t think your success is dependent upon your team’s success – you are going to fail.