There are times when every thing’s going well. Everyone’s doing their job, you’re doing your job, wheels are turning. Lovely.
And then a fire breaks out.
You jump into the fight to dowse flames and smash problems.
When Thing Go Wrong
Getting involved when things go wrong can be time consuming and draining, yet it’s a perversely thrilling part of leadership. (Don’t tell anyone I said this, but it’s kinda fun.)
Get sucked in too often though, let it become your standard operating procedure, and your team will see you as a professional fire fighter hanging on to a hose — more mess-cleaner-upper than makes-things-happener — and they’ll be right.
But leadership isn’t a fire truck and it’s not about hotspots.
It’s a bus on a journey to some place new.
Sure, every vehicle needs a fire extinguisher and someone who knows how to use it, but it’s only for emergencies. When you gotta use it, you gotta use it, but most of the time you should concentrate on the road ahead.
When you focus your attention on things that drive the bus along, not only do you put more time into making the most difference, you’re also showing everyone what should be at the top of their to-do list.
Get Involved When Things Go Right
A great way to shift emphasis is to get involved when things go right.
Look for anything that contributes forward motion and celebrate every success you see. I’m not saying overdose on awards or go party mad, just sprinkle a little fairy dust to make the good stuff sparkle.
- Go see a customer who’s just signed up for more business. Ask what your company is doing right. Spread the word.
- Sit in on a project meeting. Stay quiet. At the end of the meeting say you’re excited about the project and they should keep at it.
- Talk about progress whenever you can. “Let me take one minute to update you on …”
Leaders must always be prepared to haul on some breathing apparatus and step into the heat, but the most effect you can have (and the most fun to be had), is where things are going right.