This past fall, I had the opportunity to play golf at Chambers Bay, the site of the 2015 US Open. While the course was extremely difficult and challenging for my 20+ handicap, using a forecaddie made the experience quite enjoyable. For those not familiar, a forecaddie helps give guidance on shot selection, putting angles, and finding lost golf balls in my case.
Much like my golf experience, as you build your team or your business, it’s highly likely that to achieve excellence you’ll need the benefit of a strong number two in command. The title used to describe this role can vary; chief operating officer, general manager, vice president of operations, wing-man (or wing-woman), second mate, and even president in some cases.
“Leonard Bernstein, the famed conductor, when asked what was the most difficult position to fill in the orchestra, his response was “second fiddle”
Assuming you are the CEO, or the like, the actual title for the second in command is less important than whether you are seeking someone to delegate to or someone who will amplify you? The answer to that question has important implications for the development of your business, professional career, and/or wealth creating activity. These two outcomes aren’t mutually exclusive, but for the purposes of this post let’s keep them separate.
It wasn’t long ago that I even understood the difference—let alone the reason why it mattered—and which was best for me or Highland. Let me try to explain the scenario using my own business experience of the past year.
I have managed Highland for 12 years now (amazing!) and have wanted for some time to find someone to share in the joys and challenges of growing and building a small business from scratch. Looking back, I have made many mistakes in desiring to fill this role—in my parlance, wing-man—but it never seemed to work completely right; everything from falsely thinking I could do it all myself, to trying to move employees into a role they weren’t ready or qualified for, and to merge with another business in hopes of finding these capabilities somewhere else.
I think my stumbling block in finding the right person was partly due to lack of experience running a business, and partly thinking about the role as solely someone I could delegate important projects to. While delegation is definitely a critical element in any organization, and in the second in command role in particular, stretching my thinking to a new concept of amplification was the turning point in my development and ultimately finding the right person.
The problem wasn’t where I was looking; I was looking through the wrong set of glasses. That’s why I really like the term wing-man for this important role. It brings to life a vision of flying with someone much a like a co-pilot would, watching your back, helping to build you up when needed, helping to elevate you and your role in a way you couldn’t do alone.
Once I understood this new concept I could see that just pure delegation of business tasks without the defined purpose of amplifying my role was so much less effective and a huge energy drain. So, the job search then becomes part capability and experience (as it should), and just as importantly, can the person elevate and amplify you and your role in the company to your highest and best use.
In fact, your company and team requires this of you. With a wing-man now in place at Highland, I can see the organization running smoother, business growth occurring, focus improving, and my personal energy and impact unleashed in exciting ways.
Let me know if you want more information on the selection process and the specific steps I took.