Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR / Unsplash

Be a Fire Marshal, not a Fire Fighter

leadership Dec 22, 2022

Leaders are often tasked with putting out fires. There are always problems that need to be solved and crises that need to be averted. It is the nature of the job. But what if there were a way to avoid all of those fires in the first place? What if leaders could be proactive instead of reactive? That is the role of the fire marshal.

1. Leaders should be proactive, not reactive.

The best leaders are those who are one step ahead. They anticipate problems before they happen and take steps to avoid them. This is the type of leader that businesses need in today’s ever-changing landscape. It's not possible 100% of the time but solely being reactive is not an option. Leaders must be proactive if they want to stay ahead of the curve and not burn themselves out too.

2. Leaders should be strategic, not tactical.

Strategy is about thinking long-term. It’s about setting goals and taking steps to achieve them. Tactics, on the other hand, are short-term and focused on immediate results. Leaders should be strategic thinkers who can see the big picture and make plans accordingly. Being tactical will only get you so far. Be sure to intentionally set time for this type of work. It's taxing and needs its own space.

3. Leaders should be focused on the big picture, not the small details.

Part of being a leader is delegating tasks and trusting others to do them well. This means that leaders must be able to let go of the small details and focus on the big picture. Trying to micromanage everything will only lead to frustration and burnout. Let go of the little things and trust your team to handle them. You should also create accountability structures and ways to follow up so that you are confident that things are getting done.

4 . Leaders should be able to identify danger zones and avoid them.

Just as firefighters have a keen understanding of where fires are likely to start, so too do great leaders have an understanding of where problems are likely to arise. When you step back and see the situation as a whole, you can better identify these danger zones. Then you can take steps to avoid them altogether or at least anticipate ways to mitigate them. This helps prevent crises before they have a chance to start, which can save time, money, and stress in the long run. This is where having a keen understanding of your business comes in handy, as you’ll be better equipped to spot potential problems before they have a chance to turn into full-blown fires.

Being a great leader is about much more than just putting out fires. It’s about having a strategic vision for the future, being able to see the big picture, and understanding how all the pieces fit together. If you want to be a successful leader, it’s important to develop these skills and that takes time. Scheduling specific time to focus on these things and their development is key to becoming a better leader.