Why you put 'we' before 'me'

Hank Hayes • Oct 16, 2017 at 8:30 AM

KINGSPORT – How do you create an elite culture within an organization?

You put “we” before “me,” according to Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green, M.D.

Green, who’s running for Congress in a Middle Tennessee district and was the Trump administration’s former nominee to be Army secretary, recently gave a leadership lesson to the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors membership meeting held at the MeadowView Marriott. View a photo gallery from the event: 

Green, a West Point graduate and former Army medic, wrote a book about interviewing the late Iraq leader Saddam Hussein the night of his capture.

“I was the first physician to go into Baghdad with a Navy Seal team,” Green, R-Clarksville, told about 185 Realtors and others at the meeting. “When I got on the ground, my first mission was to find a vehicle we could use in case people got wounded … I found this Nissan pickup truck and thought it would be perfect … I started hot wiring the truck … this guy with a huge beard comes toward me, and I thought I was a dead man. He very quickly told me the agency of the federal government he worked for and that he already had stolen that truck and it was his truck.

“So he pointed me to a powder blue Nissan Maxima down the road with keys in it, but it had no battery … I went back to the truck and stole the battery from the truck. It was a perfect fit.”

Several months later, Green said, he was in the post-exchange, “the Dollar General that travels around the battlefield,” and the bearded man confronted him about the battery.

“I told him ‘I’m a thief but not a liar,’” Green said.

The bearded man’s reply: “No worries. I had taken that battery off that Nissan Maxima.”

Green described himself as a “dirt-road Republican” who grew up in South Mississippi and started his own health care company after getting out of the Army. That company, said Green, has grown to more than 1,000 employees and making over $200 million in revenue last year.

“People ask ‘How did you have that level of success in a short period of time?’” Green related. “If you want to lead a greater organization, whether it’s a small bank, a small real estate office or a large hospital, you have to create a culture in your organization and make that a target on the wall.

“The question I ask you is when people go to work with you in your office, how many of them are saying ‘I hope I’m good enough to be on this team.’ That is the power of creating that elite culture in your organization. ‘We are the very best. There is no one who can take us, and I am going to work hard every day to stay on this team.’

Green pointed out it all begins with the integrity of the leadership.

“No one will give 100 percent to someone they don’t trust,” Green noted. “Remember that VA (Veterans Administration) hospital in Phoenix? Many, many veterans died because of a failure of integrity. Imagine being part of the culture of that organization where it was O.K. to just lie … no soldier will expose themselves unnecessarily to enemy fire for a commander they hate. If you’re a boss and your people hate you, they’re not going to push themselves to extremes for you or your organization.”

Then Green got to a political example of leadership that didn’t work out.

“At the end of (former President) Barrack Obama’s first term in office, the economy was the worst in 60 years, the workforce participation rate was horrible, more people were on food stamps in America than at any time in history and yet the guy won,” Green explained. “He beat a guy (Republican Mitt Romney) that rescued billion dollar companies … he rescued a failing Olympics and he rescued a failing New England state as a governor. Yet he lost … because he couldn’t connect at the heart level.”

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