Whose "Right Arm" are You?
"Who is your right-arm?"(「あなたは誰の右腕ですか？」) This is a common expression in Japanese. Your right arm is someone who you trust and can take over for you. Leaders are often asked this question, because people want to know who they consider their successors are. However, I would define the right arm as a person whom I have trust in and simultaneously who can prove their value. It is not a person who takes care of the small tasks for me, but whom I can have a discussion and brainstorm with, and can proactively come up with constructive opinions.
This concept reminded me of my days at a DuPont Toray plant in Aichi. It was right after I obtained my MBA from UVa, around the age of 34. I was part of the Development Group at that plant. We often used the machines there to make trial products. The person in charge would plan the test, and conduct the test with help from other members of the group and sometimes machine operators too.
In the case that I became the person in charge of a test, other members from the group would help me conduct the test. Some might do things as if they were my right arm. On the other hand, when someone else oversees a test, I would try to become their right arm, assisting the test. This made the team very strong and cooperative.
If you miss a chance to be the right arm, you are missing out. It is because being the right arm lets you experience a project that you normally wouldn't be able to achieve by yourself, but still have the feeling of making a big contribution to the project. So, I would like to encourage everyone to take the role of being the right arm when you see a chance.
It might be better to ask yourself; "Whose right arm are you?" rather than trying to find out "who is your right arm?"