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Who, Not How

1_YEARGIN

I’ll admit something those closest to me already know; I am not very good at anything. This is not a self-deprecating attempt at humility or humor; it’s the truth. We have about 2,100 members on our team, and there is no doubt that each of them can do their job better than I can.

Luckily, early in my career, I realized that to be successful, I needed to be on a great team. Fortunately, that has happened again and again through the years. To the degree that I have had any success, it is because of the people around me. Whenever there was a problem to solve, I have always thought who, not how. It’s a concept I learned by reading the book Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy.

Many other leaders have the same challenge that I do, but don’t realize it. Throughout the years, innumerable leaders have come to me for advice, and when I’ve said, “Think who, not how,” their eyes lit up. They looked like a big load had been lifted off them.

This concept is transformative. If you are a leader, the following five ideas will change your world for the better.

The Right Who Fixes Your Problem

The challenges we faced when I arrived at Correct Craft in 2006 are well documented. I was the fifth CEO in five years, and it was messy. Many things needed to be fixed, but nothing concerned me more than our product. Our recent product introductions had not done well, and nothing exciting was in the pipeline.

I had a peripheral understanding of the product development process and had experience enjoying towboats, but I was not an expert. We needed a who. I asked Greg Meloon, then a Midwest sales rep for Nautique, to move to Orlando, Fla., and take over product development. The changes Greg made were foundational to our company’s turnaround and positioned us to grow in the years ahead. Greg now serves as the president of our Nautique brand.

The right who fixed the problem.

The Right Who Is More Than Just Competent

When we acquired Centurion and Supreme boats several years ago, the brands were similarly challenged. They had not fully recovered from the Great Recession and were struggling to survive. And, they were in California, a good distance from our Florida headquarters. For a while, I was flying to California every week, but that schedule was not sustainable. We needed a who.

Paul Singer, an experienced industry veteran, was willing to join our team and led a dramatic turnaround of Centurion and Supreme. The brands have enjoyed five-fold growth and are now wildly successful in every way. Paul is highly competent, but it was not his competence that resulted in the turnaround; it was his character and chemistry that changed the organization’s culture and drove the great results.

Character and chemistry matter. One consistent mistake I’ve made is thinking I hired the right person because they were highly competent. Usually, they were, but their character and chemistry were all wrong. It always ends up in a mess.

The right who will have more than just competency.

The Right Who Does Not Cost Money

When leaders think of their people as an expense, they are heading down a destructive path. The right who is never an expense; he or she is an investment that results in a great return. If you see your team as an expense, you either have the wrong mindset or the wrong people.

At Correct Craft, we spend a tremendous amount of money on employee development. We have helped dozens of employees get their MBAs, and innumerable others earn other degrees or certifications, or complete training. Currently, we have hundreds of people enrolled in Correct Craft University, one of our educational development tools. We are happy to invest in our team because we don’t see them as an expense. These are people we care about. They are valuable investments.

The Right Who Loves To Help

Sometimes, leaders will feel bad about asking others to do work they don’t want to do. If that’s you, shake that thinking. Finding the right who is not a matter of getting someone to do what you don’t like. Finding the right who is a matter of providing someone an opportunity to do something they enjoy, and at which they excel.

We are all wired differently, and that is a foundation of teamwork. What de-energizes you is likely to seriously energize someone else. I have written before about the leader’s responsibility to energize his or her organization; finding the right who for each job is a great way to do that.

The Wrong Who Must Leave the Team

Over the years, I have occasionally found myself in the unenviable position of needing to terminate a teammate, sometimes someone I really like. It is always hard. We try to provide a high-care environment at Correct Craft, so making people changes is always challenging. However, when the wrong who is on the team, a leader must be willing to make the necessary change. Henry Cloud writes about this in Necessary Endings, a book that has profoundly affected the thinking of our team.

Some leaders spend years trying to find the solution to a problem. Finding the right who solves problems faster, creating additional time for the leader to focus on other areas. This truly is a transformative concept that can change the trajectory of your company and career.

Bill Yeargin is the president and CEO of Correct Craft, and has authored five books including the bestseller Education of a CEO.

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