Fire marshals are rarely on the evening news. It is the fire fighters, who rush into a burning building to save the baby and cat, that get air time and accolades. And rightly so. They are putting their lives on the line for us.
Fire marshals are boring. They don’t get publicity or praise, but the truth is, they save a lot more lives than fire fighters. They spend their time looking for things that will prevent fires. They make sure sprinkler systems are to code and stairwells are cleared of hazards. They require upholstery in public buildings to have slow-burn rates and make sure that fire doors will auto-close when the fire alarm goes off. Oh yeah, they make sure the building has fire alarms to begin with. Their goal is to make sure the fire fighters have nothing to do except play cards and eat pizza.
In my manufacturing career, there was a tradition of making heroes out of fire fighters—the guys who “saved the day” by working all weekend to keep the assembly line moving. We did this even if the ones who “saved the day” were the ones who started the fire in the first place. I stopped that practice. We stopped making heroes out of fire fighters for putting out a fire they started in the first place.
Ben Franklin had some great advice: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
What takes less time and energy and creates less stress: getting an oil change or getting a new engine?
It always takes more time and energy to get new tires than to balance and rotate the ones you have.
It always takes more time and energy to fix a problem than to prevent one.
It always takes longer to lose 5 pounds than to gain 5 pounds.
The old adage is true: “We always have time to fix it.” So…
This 10th Leadership Credibility BE is Be a fire marshal, not a fire fighter.
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Copyright 2015 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
Click below to read other posts in the Leadership Credibility series:
Your Leadership FICO Score
Be A Bulldozer
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner