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    When We Become “They”

    “They” often gets used in conversation. Inside an organization, “they” usually refers to the executive management team.

    “They don’t know what they’re doing.”

    “They make all the money.”

    “We do all of the work; they get all of the credit.”

    While it's often negative, it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes it can be, “They’re really doing a good job.”

    At a recent strategic planning session for our company, I stood before 60 Marco leaders and said, “We are they.” We are the decision-makers for Marco and with that comes significant responsibility. It’s important we do a good job so when “they” is referred to, it is used in a positive manner.

    As leaders, we have three key responsibilities that we have to deliver on:

    • Develop an effective business strategy. (This defines the path.)
    • Set an action plan to achieve goals. (This is about execution.)
    • Drive a positive culture. (This is the hardest to sustain.)

    The difference between “they” and “we” in most cases is that “they” are initiators and “we” are processors. Initiators set the strategy and processors execute it. Both are important roles, but they are not the same.

    The Wall Street Journal recently published an article with the headline “Your boss makes how much more than you?” Regardless of the size of the company or the industry, there is a difference in pay. Initiators typically make more money. They assume more risk and are responsible for the financial performance of the company. They set and execute the business strategy. When it’s ineffective, it impacts all of the employees.

    When performance falters, it’s the initiators – the executive leadership team – that typically get the blame. We see it play out in professional sports at the end of every season. Who gets fired when the team’s not performing? The coaches, starting with the head coach.

    Coaches, just like leadership teams, are held accountable for performance. When things are not working out, eyes go to the top, as they should.

    What “they” initiate and execute for a successful business plan is critical. It drives our performance. There’s a lot on the line – people are counting on us. It’s a big responsibility to be the “they.”