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The team deserves the credit

By Martin Willoughby
Dolan Media Newswires

Jackson, Miss. — I know very few successful entrepreneurs who are solo acts.

Almost all achievement comes as a result of team effort. I remember the old T-shirts from high school that said, “There is no I in TEAM.” While this is a relatively simple concept, it is generally poorly applied.

As a leader, you want to encourage your team members to be innovative and proactive in improving the organization. However, when it comes to basking in the success of the organization or getting that bonus or raise, are we really giving credit where it is due? It is one thing to have an employee of the month parking spot; it is another to really give credit to your subordinate.

Author and restaurateur Robert St. John has tapped into this secret of success. He owns the Purple Parrott Cafe in Hattiesburg and the Crescent City Grill/Mahogany Bar in Hattiesburg and Meridian. The Purple Parrott was awarded four diamonds from AAA Travel Guide. It is noteworthy that only 768 other restaurants in the United States have achieved that rating.

St. John said he finds inspiration from a Ronald Reagan quote: “There’s no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.”

It’s a lesson, St. John said, he learned early in his career.

“I got the big head and started believing my own press,” he said. “One day, a fluke happened and about four of my kitchen employees couldn’t come to work. It struck me then, as I was facing trying to put out the lunch service all by myself, that it’s not me, it’s them. It’s always been them.”

There are more than 200 employees working at his restaurants, and he gives full credit to them for the great reputation and accomplishments they have achieved.

St. John’s accomplishments and passion are an inspiration for others who are leading organizations or teams. Employer-employee relations are built on trust. The trust disappears when team members’ contributions are ignored.

Classic poor management is to take all of the credit and none of the blame. Real leaders do the opposite.

Those are the people who inspire loyalty. Theirs are the companies that succeed.

Martin Willoughby is a business lawyer in Jackson.

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