Being a forest ranger is a much sexier job than being a firefighter. Yes, firefighters are heroes and even have their own calendars with partially clothed rescuers posing for the camera. The problem with firefighting is damage is always done when there’s a fire. What makes the job of a forest ranger even more attractive is that they keep fires from happening while “playing with fire” in appropriate ways. A controlled burn reduces forest density, eliminates potential future fires, and returns nutrient-rich organic material to the soil. Future growth after a controlled burn is often healthier, lusher, and greener as a result.
Leaders would do well to engage in more Forest Ranger Leadership. In fact, those who spend more of their time managing a controlled burn or, in the very least, promote fire prevention, have companies that are nimbler and more profitable than those that are constantly putting out fires.
Here is an example of the difference between Fire Fighting Leadership and Forest Ranger Leadership
Firefighting – Disciplining employees for poor results
Prevention – Consistently holding people accountable before they end up having poor results
Controlled Burn – Coaching employees to leverage strengths over weaknesses
Becoming a better leader is often as simple as putting out the fires one last time, and then joining the ranks of the forest ranger.
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Go ahead, extinguish those current fires or, even better, get someone else to do it for you. Then, ask yourself, “How can I shift into consistently managing my company with prevention and controlled burns?”
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