Leadership Lesson #1: Put the right people in the right places

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A vice president of a major energy company once shared with me the biggest reason for his success. It wasn’t because he had all the answers or because he knew how to do it all.

He said he was successful because he “put the right people in the right places.” He knew his employees and he knew their strengths.

Those words have never had as much clarity as they did one evening this past winter in a local sports bar and restaurant, where a group of us came together for one purpose. It was to see what we could do to help 50 year old, Nancy Heinbaugh, who, just three weeks earlier sustained severe neurological and physical injuries in a vehicle accident.

While I didn’t know most of the people at the table, I knew that what we shared as a group was a common bond to do whatever we could to help her. Our goal was to provide financial support to the family to offset the mounting costs associated with her care. We wanted to do something for Nancy – something really big.

Over conversation and pizza, planning for “A Night for Nancy” came to life that winter night. And so did each person’s unique strengths and areas of expertise. It was clear that putting the right people in the right places would be the key to making this dinner, dance, auction, and Games of Chance event a success.

There was the accountant and volunteer firefighter with experience running charity events; the draftsman/engineer who understood space and logistics; the 20 year-old college student who would put our message out on social media plus doing so much more; and the bank teller, who would help establish the “Nancy Heinbaugh Fund” – just to name a few.

All 14 committee members bring something special to the table, whether it’s their area of expertise; their ability to organize; or their network of associates who are supporting the cause in some way. And the 50 event night volunteers this group recruited have all been assigned tasks based on their skills and interests.

As auction items are pouring in and tickets are being sold for the June 7th event, I have no doubt “A Night for Nancy” will be a success. There are lots of reasons why, including a community that has rallied around the cause.

A cause that was started by putting the right people in the right places.

Postscript: A Night for Nancy was a sell-out and a huge success. This video, created especially for the event by video-photojournalist, Paul Ruggieri, also made it very special and memorable. It captures why we came together and why it was so important to put all the right people in all the right places.



  One thought on “Leadership Lesson #1: Put the right people in the right places

  1. larryorlando2013
    May 26, 2014 at 12:31 am

    Will see you at the Night for Nancy. What a great project.

  2. May 26, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Thanks so much, Larry. I’ll see you there!

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