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Monday, March 12, 2012

Are you a firefighter? Part 2

Last week, I wrote about leaders firefighting by taking out their fire hose and spraying everyone when a disciplinary message needs to be delivered.  This week, I want to discuss the other type of firefighting, where leaders run from one problem to the next and think they are the only ones who can solve the problems. 

I love the quote in the AIDT manual about this, The illusion of control depends on the leader acting as the ‘sole problem solver’.  This role implies that the leader is the only one wise or capable enough to make decisions…. In this mode, the leader is strictly a fire fighter running from one problem to the next. You don’t have time to lead because you’re running from fire to fire- sometimes the same one, over and over, in the same day.

We all want to be in control, but effective leaders don’t run around day after day fighting fires because they have given responsibility, authority, and autonomy to their subordinates.  They empower instead of micro-manage.

So to become an empowering leader, let me pass along some of the suggestions the AIDT Leadership class offers: 

1.       Give employees specific areas where they have final authority to make decisions and solve problems.  If employees come to you with every decision, something is wrong. 

2.       Allow employees to make mistakes.   See mistakes as learning opportunities.

3.       Encourage employees to share ideas.   The best way to do this is to listen to ideas and use them.

4.       Give employees the opportunity to learn and grow.  Cross training is a great way to do this.   Don’t always assign a task to the “expert” in that area.  Give someone who is “green” in the area the opportunity learn a new skill and build confidence in performing that skill. 

The question you should ask yourself everyday as a leader is, "Am I making more leaders?".   Empowering others is the first step in answering "yes" to this question.   

How do you empower others?

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