Give opportunities to your crew
Spring is in the air and baseball season is upon us. Talking about sports, a fatal mistake for a coach to make is to misjudge the playing level of his players. Pro basketball player Jeremy Lin comes to my mind. He was playing in the D-League in the 2011-2012 season where he warmed the bench for the New York Nicks until he was put on the starting lineup in February 2012. He was unknown to the basketball world. That single opportunity gave the Nicks an unexpected winning streak. From that winning streak, Lin coined the phrase, “Linsanity.” What made the difference? Did he really train hard for a few months to give him the skills to win? Did the coach over look his skills? I can only imagine the looks and conversations between the coach and the team owners saying something like, “Why didn’t you have him in the starting lineup earlier in the season”? He became an overnight star. Why? He was given an opportunity.
It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction. — Warren Buffett
According to Ken Blanchard author of the “One Minute Manager,” all team members fit into one of four categories, directions, coaching, support or delegation.
Players (emergency responders) need direction. Young and inexperienced personnel really don’t know what to do with the training they received from a recruit class or the classes they have taken at night and weekends to become an emergency responder. You have to instruct them every step of the way because the job they do is dangerous. This responsibility shouldn’t be taken lightly. Once instructions are given, let them own it and do the job. Don’t feel like you have to micro-manage your personnel. Ken Blanchard has the mindset of catching his staff doing something right and rewarding them with words like, “Job well done.” Think of this activity the same you would an Incident Action Plan (IAP). What is its intended purpose? It’s to provide personnel with direction.
Warren Buffett said; “It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” Finding a mentor that will guide you in the right direction is a must.
Emergency responders need a coach (company officer). Players who can do the job on their own will become more independent, but they will need a coach for direction. When I think of great coaches, they focused on what their team did correctly and not so much on what they did wrong. Vince Lombardi said; “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” A coach sees the big picture. He or she has usually been in the same shoes of the person they are coaching and can give direction from experience.
Emergency responders need support. Most of the time they are able to work without your direction and need encouragement. They will run in a ditch or hit a guardrail of life along the way and need someone to say, “I know you can do this.” Terrell Owens, a former NFL player said; “A lot of emotional stress that people go through, some people figure out a way to handle it. They have a strong enough support system to keep going and keep moving forward. Some people, they feel like they don’t have that outlet.” Having that support system on and off the job is very important.
Delegate and pass down authority and responsibility to others under your leadership to carry out activities. When you delegate, you are releasing your authority to others to get the job done. If there is no delegation, you can only accomplish what you can do personally — and that’s okay if you don’t have anyone under your leadership. When you can delegate, provide them with vision on the front end and accountability on the back end and they will multiply your efforts toward success. We all need accountability and know where we stand. When we’re given that authority to do the job, we can go forward with the job at hand. This unknown author said; “Even ‘Super-You’ needs help and support. There is no shame in asking for assistance. Push aside the pride and show respect for the talent others can bring to the table. And, remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success: When you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself, your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.”
Wayne Bailey is Deputy Director North Carolina Department of Insurance, Office State Fire Marshal where he manages the Fire and Rescue Commission Staff. He serves on IFSAC’s Certificate Assembly Board of Governor and is a member of the NFPA 1006 Technical Rescue Committee.
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