Author Archives: Paul LaRue
Have you ever noticed how emergency service providers – EMT’s, police, firefighters, doctors, lifeguards – don’t rush right into the scene of an accident? And have you ever considered why that is?
Think about what happens in our daily lives. We can get so bogged down by details and seeming urgencies that we lose sight of the landscape, and oftentimes the really important and critical matters that will make the largest impact to those we lead and serve.
This is the premise for responding to a scene of an accident. When the ambulance arrives, they don’t rush in and start reacting. They walk carefully into the heart of the scene to understand the incident and size up any potential danger. They don’t stop and treat the first injured person they see; instead they survey those injured and make note of the critical versus the minor injuries. From that, they can assess who needs the most urgent attention and can have a greater chance to save lives versus treating as they come across and missing a critical injury further down the scene.
This approach can serve our leadership influence well. A great leader will take these steps out of an emergency service providers’ playbook to be more effective in any matter:
- Get to the heart of the matter. Don’t stand on the sidelines, but get in the trenches to understand the issue.
- Don’t rush in. Take the time to delve into the situation, carefully observing all the variables and factors. Don’t prejudice your understanding before you truly know.
- Remove danger. If there is a critical matter that will profoundly and adversely affect everyone, address it and remove the situation by resolving it. As EMT’s remove people from an exploding gas tank, leaders need to remove their people and organization from those volatile situations before they can treat the other issues at hand.
- Triage. It’s easy to think you’re effective treating the first surface issue that comes across. yet you’re more effective and helpful when you see everyone involved and what the greatest and most urgent needs are.
- Touch every affected person. People affected by even collateral damage in a situation need to be identified and treated as well. Make sure your approach is complete and everyone is accounted for.
- Clean up. Once the scene is controlled and everyone is tended to, then create a clean up plan. Changes in systems, preventative measures, training, and perhaps noticing the signs that caused the incident will prevent future issues down the road.
- Most important – STAY CALM. A doctor or lifeguard that panics or gets excitable or overly emotional will cause nothing but anxiety in those they are supposed to be helping. Calming down a situation involves keeping yourself calm in order to instill a sense of control and hope in others during these crisis.
Great leaders make this a deliberate habit in their lives. By understanding these steps, you can meet any situation and come to the rescue to make your organization and people safer, stronger, and more secure down the road.
Have a story or strategy along this thinking that works in these situations? Would love to hear your input!
In recent weeks the area I live has been subject to much rain. So much in fact that certain areas have washed away in part; some a little, some quite a lot.
In the course of time and entropy, the elements that something is exposed to can wear it down. It often takes an outside agent for those items to be built back again, whether to maintain or to enhance.
Our leadership growth trajectory can be like that in many ways.
We often experience period of erosion in our growth and effectiveness, both professionally and personally. That step backwards can from from the external elements we find ourselves in. More often than not, those contributing factors come within our own selves.
In these times we can get discouraged from our failures and our paralysis to shore up ourselves will lead to further and more rapid erosion, lost credibility, and uselessness to every sphere we hope to influence.
But unlike the roadway which cannot repair itself, we can be our own agents for change. by learning form what derailed us, first within ourselves then in our response to those external to us, we can shift the momentum of our leadership influence into an upward trajectory and back on the path of growth and success.
And if that is a challenge, we can still rely on those agents other than self to help us. Our mentors, coaches, spouses, pastors, and colleagues can be great resources to get back in the game, if we are willing to let them help us.
Life and leadership are intertwined, and the object lessons in both are the same in many respects. Our growth is never a liner upward line, but usually a 1 step backward and 2 steps forward plodding over time that reaps positive results and tremendous impact to those around us.
Resolve today to take those 2 steps forward. Don’t allow your stumbling to hold you there. Look to improve your response, missteps, and faults and then charge forward to improve to build upon that resolve and revelation into your leadership character.
It’s always important to realize your shortfalls. It’s even more important to move on from them.
For those of you who haven’t heard of him, Jeffrey A. Fox is a management and executive consultant, and a great leadership author. I enjoy reading his books for a number of reasons, some of which are because he succinctly gets to the core point of what he’s saying. Each chapter is a precious nugget of richness, solid in truth and invaluable to those yearning to grow.
While not his latest book, “How To Be A Great Boss” is a read that I have thoroughly enjoyed every page of the way. One of the chapters hits the nail on the head about where your time should be spent among your people. It’s entitled “Spend 90% of Your Time With Your Best People”.
It seems that so much of leaders’ time that they spend on their staff is consumed with the so-called “high maintenance” employees. They are the ones that literally cost the company precious time and money due to their lack of performance, disruptive behavior, or both. A few years back I reported to a C-level executive who confided in me that 80% of their time was lost constantly on 20% of their “problem children”. While they didn’t know how to swing that around (and couldn’t see how they themselves had created this culture that they were drowning in), I used my personal experience to shed some light and help them understand what Jeffrey Fox layed out for the rest of us.
Years ago I knew a manager who was charged with creating a new department for an entertainment company. This department was an offshoot of an existing one, yet it was to run co-dependently at first then become self-sufficient within 60 days. It was an on-the-fly task that was literally dumped on him; part of his benefit package for being promoted.
The staff that he and his supervisory team were given were the employees that none of the other supervisors wanted to invest time in. They were deemed “unproductive” and by jettisoning them to this new area, they were relieved of any further obligation to work with these employees. So this manager had a staff of about 50 untrained and unmotivated employees to start a department with.
He immediately started to recognize three types of employees: those that worked hard no matter what, those that worked well but not always consistent, and those that were never motivated and failed to do the job at all. Unconsciously, he started investing the bulk of his time with the hard workers, as he needed them to anchor the day to day tasks. He then spend most of the rest of his time with the second group, realizing that they had potential but were never properly trained or shown they had value. He did spend time with the unmotivated group, mostly in corrective action, but never let them consume his valuable time.
Well, a peculiar trend started to happen in this manager’s new department. He noticed that the hard workers dug in and worked harder, and set a great attitude and pace for the entire team. He then saw that the middle group felt needed because they were given attention finally, and, seeing the first group energized, started to perform on a pace close to the hard workers. But what the manager saw in the unmotivated group literally shocked him. He noted that many of these workers, previously deemed problematic, started to perk up and step up their game. Their attitude and performance improved remarkably. When asked, they generally said that they had never been a part of such a team before, and didn’t want to be left out, or left behind. Granted, there were a few dissenters that needed to be groomed out, but the vast majority clicked with the team dynamic and their first year brought incredible sales success and profitability that they did not forecast they would attain for at least 3 years.
By focusing on your 90%, Fox states, you invest in the biggest return in your company. If you invested in those underperforming stocks, you would most certainly look for better returns in higher potential stocks. Why should it be any different with your staff? Invest where it counts, and you’ll be surprised at the results. And so will your team.