If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided
all will fail.
I used a common leadership slogan earlier in my writing, “Your people are your best resource”. I find now as I reflect on those words I have come to disagree with that statement and must advise against its use. Money in a bank is a resource. Iron ore in a mine is a resource. Fighter aircraft on the ramp are a resource.
Your people are your partners!
While writing for General Leadership, I rely not only on my military leadership experience but also on the wisdom of others. After reading Daniel Pink’s book Drive, I began to realize the way a leader views his employees affects his actions towards them. Pink sums it up well when he says, “…it’s a partnership between me and the employees. They’re not resources. They’re partners”.
- Resources are made to be consumed. Partners cultivate, grow, nurture and guide each other. If partners are consumed you are in deep trouble.
- Resources can be horded. Partners are trusted to go their own way and make their own decisions.
- Resources provide value only to the user. Partners provide value to each other.
- Resources can be treated poorly and still function. Partners who treat each other poorly kill the relationship and obliterate production and output.
Leaders treat their people with respect, ensuring they have the guidance, resources and support to do their job. Leaders promote growth and provide opportunities. The team in turn produces product, creates business and accomplishes the mission.
“A leader, on the other hand, is out with his people…”
As a leader, your place is in front of your team. Think of a lead sled dog, a Drum Major for a band or the leader of a 4-ship of F-15s. Does it mean you always have to be physically in front of the herd? No. But you have to be with your team, experiencing the same situation, to understand the issues and know how to guide your team.
U.S. General Omar Bradley in World War II was known as the soldier’s general because he spent his time out in the field, sharing the same conditions he asked his soldiers to endure. He knew how cold it was in the winter on the front or how important dry socks were to an army’s success because he experienced the same conditions. He used this knowledge to make better decisions as a leader to help his team succeed.
The difference between a leader and a boss is critical. A leader works with his people while a boss has people who work for him. I think of a boss as the person who sits in his office all day issuing edicts to his team with no knowledge of the actual working conditions. Think Queen Marie Antoinette uttering “Let them eat cake” upon hearing of a famine in France. A leader, on the other hand, is out with his people, in front of them, encouraging, guiding, inspiring while experiencing the same conditions.
Partner with your team by sharing their experiences. Understand the difficulties associated with your company’s particular situation and help your team be successful. Your entire organization will benefit if you treat your team as partners and not as resources!
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