3 Better Business Building Blocks: Brains, Brawn & Bonding


“Be All You Can Be” was the slogan for the United States Army for over 20 years in the 1980s and 90s. In that spirit, this blog focuses on what the letter B can offer us in the way of treasures to keep in our leadership toolbox. Specifically, in any sector of life, or Business, you can build for success with three key Building Blocks in the organization: Brains, Brawn, and Bonding. Allow me to babble more brilliantly …


All successful organizations require people with great Brains. In some cases, this means people who have truly brilliant academic minds. If you work at NASA, yes, it really is rocket science, so you want someone on the team who truly understands it. Sometimes, the person with the most Brains on your team or in your organization is not the person with the highest level of formal education per se, but may be the person with the greatest technical skill in his or her specific area on the team. For instance, in my current job in the Combat Plans Division at a NATO Combined Air Operations Center, one of our database managers, Ken, is the lowest ranking member of the division. I’m not certain if he has a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree. What I am certain of, though, is that his knowledge of database administration, Oracle Cloud, database server architecture, etc. is absolutely mind-blowing and the contributions he makes to our entire division is outstanding. Advanced degree or not, the technical expertise he brings to the team in his specific niche area provides tremendous Brainpower for the whole team. Moreover, the idea of Brains for Better Business doesn’t always have to relate to academic degrees or technical expertise at all, but rather the ability for critical thinking. The leader of a team or organization needs to be able to critically think … to take a problem, analyze it, and determine the best possible solution for it. However, this is not just the leader’s responsibility. If he or she has a team in which all people on the team or in the organization understand the value of critical thinking, the value of looking at different ways to approach problems to find solutions that are more effective, more efficient, safer, more sustainable, more cost effective, etc., then those collective Brains will certainly yield Better Business.


While Brains are certainly needed for success in an organization, Brawn is another trait that is equally important. Some Businesses do require Brawn in the sense of strength and physical stamina such as professional competitive sports, construction work, furniture delivery, and many others. However, Brawn can also be defined as the trait of those people in the organization who do the “heavy lifting.” Every organization or team has those people who always exceed the minimum standards in their work. They help others who have fallen behind or are struggling with certain projects or tasks. They always volunteer to help out in the organization in any way they can. It is their work ethic, can-do attitude, and tenacious will and effort to “get ‘er done” that provide strength, or Brawn, for the entire group.


Finally, when working with people in an organization with tremendous Brains and exceptional Brawn, often those traits are found in different people instead of the same person. That is where Bonding comes in. Whereas the Brains and Brawn of a Business can come from several people at all levels within the organization, the function of Bonding lies primarily with middle and senior management … the team’s or organization’s leaders. Leaders must Bond the critical thinkers with the Brains and the hard workers with the Brawn into a cohesive and synergistic team that capitalizes on these individual skills. When critical thinking and hard work are Bound together through a common vision of the leader, and announced to the team through his or her direction and guidance, it is nearly a guarantee that the Business will be Better.

Brains, Brawn, and Bonding are key Building Blocks for Better Business, and leaders in all types of organizations should aspire to have some degree of all of those traits. The leader doesn’t have to be the smartest person on the team, but critical thinking is essential. Leaders don’t have to be the hardest workers on the team, but they should expect no more effort from other team members than they expect from themselves. While great teams and organizations seem to have people that naturally work well together, the role of the leader is to integrate the thinkers and hard workers to maximize the effectiveness of their combined skills. By Building organizations with a focus on Brains, Brawn, and Bonding, your organization will excel, and like the old Army slogan, you will “Be All You Can Be.”