Lt. Col. (Ret.) Rob “Waldo” Waldman knows a thing or two about being a “wingman”—both literally and figuratively. Waldman was a fighter pilot with 65 combat missions and 2,650 flight hours. He’s been deployed worldwide and flew missions in Iraq, Southeast Asia and Kosovo during Operation Allied Force. But he was also a former top-producing salesperson. He learned that being a wingman—someone who is willing to rely on the help of others—was important there, too. The sought-after motivational speaker and author of best-selling book “Never Fly Solo,” will be the keynote speaker at LANDSCAPES.
We asked Waldman to share his best tips to preview his keynote address in Louisville this October. Here he offers three lessons on “how to be a wingman” and set your business up for success.
Never Fly Solo Lesson #1: Accept that You Can’t Do it Alone
Waldman’s entire program is about creating environments where leaders become trusted partners. A wingman can’t succeed on his or her own—he or she must be able to rely on others.
“In the competitive and everchanging world of landscaping, in order to truly take your business to the next level, you have to partner with others out there,” Waldman says. “You must be able to nurture and build relationships with other wingmen that allow you to run a growth-based business. Your vendors, your office people, your finance folks, the people who do your website—these are all partners in your success.”
Waldman likens it to fighter pilots who he says would never fly a combat mission solo. They always fly as a team. As a result, wingmen provide mutual support in order to maximize the ability to accomplish the established objectives.
Never Fly Solo Lesson #2: Set Yourself—and Others—Up for Success
Of course, you still need to do everything in your power to set yourself—and your team of wingmen—up for success. Leverage the tools, technology and other assets are available to you,” Waldman says.
In other words, don’t expect success to just happen. Actively do something about it.
This concept can benefit landscape business owners who are struggling with a labor shortage, as well. The companies that will have the most success with recruiting will be those that are taking action.
“If you pay well, create incentives and show them you have paths for their futures, they’ll do the hard work for you,” Waldman says.
“In my program, I also cover how to nurture and build trust amongst those working for you and with you. Loyalty and trust are essential. You need to have their back—and they’ll have yours,” Waldman adds.
Never Fly Solo Lesson #3: Acknowledge Your Blind Spots
“As leaders, we all have blind spots,” says Waldman. “You have to realize as an owner of your company you might be able to see the big picture but you can’t always see the entire picture. In order to be successful, you must be willing to acknowledge this fact. Acknowledge you have blind spots. Then overcome them by nurturing relationships with other wingmen who can see what you can’t. A great leader nurtures those relationships and isn’t ashamed to ask for help.”
Waldman says leaders must be willing to “lead from the side” sometimes.
“Sometimes you need to let your team be out front,” he explains. “Train them, incentivize them to perform their best and then trust them to do the job. Be an advocate for your team and they’ll help you build success.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: See Waldman speak at LANDSCAPES this October! Sign up today!