It’s funny how many times I have heard the phrase,“putting out fires”.
It seems like as we lead businesses and teams that it conveniently comes with challenges and issues perfectly designed to derail our vision and plans. I can definitively say that much of leadership is problem solving and issue resolving, so much so, we become numb to the process and it’s strength building potential.
It moves from an energizing process of team development to a cynical energy draining process we affectionately call “Putting Out Fires”.
Now, There are plenty of reasons behind why this sort of mindsets develop in leaders and organizations, but for today I want to focus on the actual effort of fire extinguishing.
I recently visited my local fire house and started a conversation with some of the bravest men and women I have ever been around. Let’s face it, I’m not wired to run into burning buildings and outside of my family, w
hom I would give my life to save, I’m probably going yell real loud to you…“YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE” while making the call to the local Fire Dept.
In my discussion with these amazing people, who daily roll up their sleeves on behalf of our local communities in incredible ways, I asked the question,”So, How do you put out a fire?”.
I am sure I will butcher this in some way, to all Fire Fighters around the world please accept my apologies as I attempt to unpack my notes and make sense of the wisdom shared and how it apples to our leadership.
- The first thing they pointed out to me when it came to fire fighting was the need to get to the roof of the building and tear holes in it. The Fire Chief pointed out that the primary reason is to do two things, v
entilate the smoke and heat from the premises.
- Next was for the the hose team to enter the building and locate the core of the fire and attack the fire at the core. Meanwhile, the search and rescue team enters the building to do a thorough check of the building for anyone needing assistance or medical attention.
Now as methodical as this sounds, it’s important to understand that this happens with a sense of urgency and expertise that defies our ability to wrap our brains around the training and elegant problem solving at incredible speed with the highest level of professional trust.
I walked away with a whole new perspective of fire fighting that inspires me as a leader and it’s my hope that as you read and process this through the lens of problem solving in your organization it will provide you a framework that brings clarity and elegant problem solving to your company or team.
Smile, the next level awaits.