Welcome to the first ever “Executive’s Corner” blog post. I’m not sure, but we may have come up with the most generic and clichéd blog name for an executive group possible. At any rate, we’re glad you decided to take the time to read this blog. We hope to provide you insights, encouragement, updates, and possibly randomness within these notes. As we continue to grow our business together, the notion of leadership comes up more and more often. And because we are comprised of small businesses, it is important to cover the concept of equipping and how much influence that can have on a corporation.
I grew up in a small town in the interior of Alaska. That little town, Nenana, is nestled in where two rivers meet and across from a rolling hill (that would be proudly called a mountain if it were in Huntsville, AL). By little, I mean my graduating class had less than 10 people and the local store was only slightly larger than a 7-Eleven gas station.
My parents’ house is about 15 miles south of Nenana down a longish driveway and busy with mosquitoes in the summer. My dad, one of the most ambitious people I know, was always working on something. Fixing, tinkering, building, breaking … you get the picture. One thing I noticed about him was how resourceful he was – or is (he’s getting older so, you know). I think some of this was natural, but a lot of it was out of necessity. He could plan out as many details as possible in order to get everything he needed when he drove to the “city” to get his supplies, but when he started the work it was inevitable that something was not what he was expecting. He would need a tool, a different piece, a rope – you name it. His choices? Drive over 60 miles in the snow/ice and through the hills (or “mountains”), or figure out a way to get the most out of his resources that he had. Most of the time, he would choose the latter option and was able to accomplish a lot using only what he had available. This isn’t to say there aren’t times when we simply have to go get the things we need. But I do think that we sometimes miss the boat when it comes to leading and equipping people – that is, using the resources we have available. Leaders should be equipping workers to carry out the mission of the company in order to build value and to even reach unity within the organization. Just those elements of equipping alone should help one see the power of equipping. Here are some of my thoughts on equipping people within an organization and how we hope it is put into practice throughout Yulista.
Think about the story of David and Goliath. Everyone knows this story, but how many have thought about it in terms of proper equipping? When David first convinced the king to let him fight Goliath, the king tried to load him up with heavy armor and equipment that David was not used to carrying. Using that armor, David would have been heavy, slow, and inflexible. Using only the equipment on his hip (a sling) and some resources (a rock or two) at his disposal, David was able to move quickly, violently, and efficiently, and at the end, he executed his plan to perfection.
Goliath, on the other hand, used heavy armor and a heavy sword, and even had an escort. In effect, he was slow, inflexible, inefficient, and at the end … dead. What David used was his known resources to beat a man who, on the surface, was better equipped. David could have used more expensive resources, he could have added onto his arsenal, but he chose to go with what he had and ultimately became the superior warrior.
We can certainly apply this principle in our everyday jobs. Weird? Yes, maybe. True? Absolutely. If we can do a great job of recognizing the current resources we have – and this includes people with specific talents – we can accomplish more by training with those resources than we could by adding on new layers. David was trained and ready to go with the resources he had at his disposal, and he accomplished far more than he would have with the add-ons. But let me ask this: If the king hadn’t believed in David or even offered an incentive, would the outcome have been the same?
So, who should be equipping people within an organization? Just the leaders at the top? Should they be responsible for equipping every section, department, or division within the company? In a word: no. This is one of the reasons hiring the right people and ensuring they are doing the right things is so important.
Equipping people should be performed at every level of the organization. Every level. For instance, Monica James and I should be equipping and encouraging our YHC Directors and our Sub Presidents to carry out the mission, build corporate value, and encourage company unity. And they, in turn, should be equipping leaders within their group. Equipping of employees should be viewed as equipping new leaders and needs to happen at every level.
Paul May, the Director of YHC Finance, is equipping his department to be leaders and take on new challenges. He should also be equipping the finance people within each subsidiary to grow into the kind of finance people that is found in the YHC Finance department. Joe Webb, the Director of Business Development, should be equipping and training his department, but should also reach into the subs and equip them to be effective at business development. And at each section of our contracts, our section leads should be equipping the workers in those sections so they can do more, handle more, carry out the mission, be in unity, and grow into leaders themselves.
We are a company comprised of many different small groups that will need to operate in unity. And this is a good thing! Over and over again, the actions of small groups have far greater potential for influence than just one large group. And this is why equipping within each small group is imperative.
Businesses always identify tangible things as key success factors. Here are a few common KSFs:
This is all true. My argument is that when we equip our people and take an equip first, hire later approach, we are able to move quickly, violently, and efficiently, and execute our plans in unity, all of which lead toward hitting our key success factors.
Our challenge to you is to consider how we can build up leaders within your areas of responsibilities. Consider how you can build up the stakeholders that work with your department or sections. My suspicion is that our level of buy-in and commitment will increase, and we will be able to accomplish more with what we have than if we simply go hire more people. Let’s equip the employees we have to stay nimble, fast, efficient, and unified.
President, Y-Tech Services, Inc.