By Coach Mike

One of the primary principles of being an effective leader is understanding how to win the day. As a leader, we often go through the day haphazardly. We allow the difficulties of the day to just happen to us, and we react to issues as they occur. I call this firemen leadership.

Whether it’s on the job or at home, we often show up to a problem or opportunity with a gallon of water in order to extinguish the crisis. However, we do not realize the water is actually gas. Instead of solving the problem, we intensify it and fuel the fire. It’s time to stop being reactive like the fireman. It’s important that you know what to look for and stay in a proactive mindset in order to win the day!

Let’s define the word proactive. Proactive means creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened. It’s not easy to stay in a proactive mindset. Mastering this behavior takes a skilled leader. Here are a few steps you should practice in order to put out the fires of the day. 

1.) Make yourself available. Many problems can be solved by making yourself available to your team. I know leaders that run and hide every time a problem arises, and that causes tension.

2.) Make it safe. Leaders must cultivate a culture of safe and open dialog. If your team fears your wrath when they come to you, they will never open up and problems will stay hidden.

3.) Take the time.  Being proactive will take an investment of time to consider your options, weigh alternatives, and make the necessary decisions.

4.) Anticipate the problem. This step may be the most important part of being proactive. One must learn from past mistakes and seek new ways to solve repeating issues.

Training your team to think and be proactive should be your first line of defense.  Knowing how to extinguish the fire can simply be understanding the steps to take before the fire starts. Your team is watching you, especially during a crisis.  Encourage your team members to be disciplined by approaching issues and opportunities proactively. 

This investment into your team will pay a big dividend. Leave the fires to the real firemen, follow these procedures, and successfully win the day.