[September 16, 2021] General George S. Patton was one of America’s greatest generals. There is hardly a person alive today who has not heard of him and his exploits during World War II. But that’s only part of the story. Patton surrounded himself with some of the best minds in operational warfare and allowed those people to do their job without interference.
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – George S. Patton
Great leaders know that too many things are continuously happening to be controlled singlehandedly, so they put their efforts into what they do best and delegate the rest. By having talented, trustworthy, and honorable people surrounding them, they have ensured that their mission will be achieved.
New commanders find themselves in charge of an inherited staff from the previous commanding officer. The best of those officers were able to mold their new staff into a great, effective, and creative team and improve them over time by adding even better people. This concept is certainly not new and has been taught in management courses for a long time for the simple reason that it works.
Often, we can determine the competence of a leader by the people they have around them. There’s a saying – but I can’t find the quote – that goes something like this; great leaders surround themselves with great people, marginal leaders surround themselves with substandard people. Marginal leaders are afraid to be seen as inferior by having smart people around them. Great leaders have intelligent people around them to get the job done.
David Ogilvy tells us that “If you ever find a man who is better than you are, hire him.” This is undoubtedly good advice. Every great leader I’ve ever known possessed this characteristic; the ability to have great people around them … regardless of where they came from, who they were, or who they worked for.
Great leaders surround themselves with great people. That is one of the marks of authentic leadership.