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When I was learning the purchasing business many years ago in the US Air Force, my first boss was a salty old First Sergeant who took some getting use to. He was from Up North, I was from Down South. Like most of his kind (in my eyes) he was always in a hurry, and loud.

But he did teach me a lot about being a buyer and more importantly, about being a good employee. One of his most important lessons was, "IAYM." He explained it to me this way:

"This is your job. I'll help you learn how to do it, but it's your job to get it done. You make the decisions, up to a point, about how you're going to do it. Let me know what you decide and what the results are. When you mess it up, I'll yell at you, then we'll talk it over and you won't do it again. But I will not hold your hand while you cross the street. As you guys say Down South, "I Ain't Ya Mama."

I've been reading stuff from the experts about "empowering" your employees. It's only now that I can truly grasp the true ramifications of this "damn Yankee's" philosophy. It empowered me. It forced me to really learn by doing my job, making my own mistakes and being forced to take the responsibility for the results, good or bad.

It wasn't long after his lesson that I was making buys of hundreds of thousands of dollars and doing it by myself.

Was I scared? You bet! Did I mess up? Sure did! Did I get yelled at? Oh, yeah. But did I learn? YES! Did I feel responsible for my job? YES! YES! Was I motivated? YES! YES! YES!

What I've boiled it down to is this; if you want to succeed, you need to be turned on by your job. And the best way is to develop a sense of ownership. You only need to take responsibility and ownership for the success of your job. You've got to let go of the boss's hand when you cross the street. That's what I'd tell you, except I ain't ya mama, either!

That's my take on it. What's yours?

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