Please enjoy this recording and other supplemental materials from Tony’s free weekly webinar.
Disorganized, reactive business owners and other managers often complain of continually being drawn into “fighting fires,” meaning that emergencies and failures frequently demand immediate, ad hoc attention. I find this metaphor comical since real firefighters do not operate in the haphazard, seat-of-the-pants manner so familiar in many businesses. Professional firefighters–well, there’s the answer right in the modifier. The people responding to actual hot fires are professionals. They train, they plan, and they follow proven procedures.
My friend, Brad Mayhew, is the real deal. A former hotshot wildland firefighter, just like the ones in the movie, Only the Brave, which dramatized the tragedy of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire. Brad also worked on the investigation into why that crew died.
One of Brad’s lessons from the dangerous wildland kind of firefighting can help those engaged in the safe office kind of “firefighting.” During the Coal Canyon Fire in 2011, two firefighters found themselves in a vehicle surrounded by flames. One was soon overcome by the fumes and heat. Hearing their distress calls, Reese, a nearby firefighter, radioed back that the survivor must leave the vehicle immediately and run fifty feet through flames, fumes, and hot ash to reach safety.
Would you accept that advice from a co-worker? How about from someone who didn’t even work for your company, a supplier or client? That firefighter is alive because he took the advice. Here’s he did, as Brad wrote in Firehouse magazine:
“‘I have a close relationship with Reese. Because of who he is and because it came from him … that was what we had to do.’”
How did they get to know and trust one another? Training together. Agencies in the area hold joint large-scale scenarios, live-fire exercises, simulations and classroom training. Training together builds trust and familiarity across agency lines.
But it had not always been that way between these fire departments. They used to be like the different departments in many dysfunctional commercial enterprises:
Twenty years earlier, agency relationships were described as “very contentious” with “mutual resentment and animosity.”
Local leaders decided to fix this: “We all just finally understood that the old ways and the animosity were getting us nowhere, and that it’s not about ourselves. We were not serving the people on the ground. We weren’t getting the firefighters what they needed. That’s wrong. We … needed to set the example” (SAI Report, D&A). The Report goes on to say, “It took 10 years of deliberate effort to transform relationships among cooperators.”
CEO Executive Coach Tony Mayo has shared a great deal of practical information with business people since re-launching his free e-mail newsletter in 2008. Here is a list of topics covered. Just click on any title to read more.
Facts are useful. Opinions help, too. Knowing one from the other will help you get more work done with more people. Here’s why.
These leadership insights from MCI founder Bill McGowan should sound familiar to my executive coaching clients and to readers of this blog.
INC.: You’ve taken a company from nothing and, in the span of 18 years, created a new industry and built a company doing almost $3 billion worth of business. How do you account for the fact that you didn’t allow the company to outgrow you?
McGOWAN: Besides the fact that there is no accounting for it, I suppose it’s because I realized at every point along the way that I didn’t need to be the person who had to do any particular thing other than make sure that the focus and direction of the company was clear, and that the forces and people were set in motion to get us where we were going.
I’m naturally a delegator. I guess I realized early in life that, (more…)
Here is a top-level endorsement of a principal I have often voiced, most specifically in this popular post, Truth or Consequences? Beyond the Punishment Model.
“By the standards of the rest of the world, we overtrust. So far it has worked very well for us. Some would see it as weakness.” … Mr. Munger and Mr. Buffett argue that with the right basic controls, finding trustworthy managers and giving them an enormous amount of leeway creates more value than if they are forced to constantly look over their shoulders at human resources departments and lawyers monitoring their every move.
“We just try to operate in a seamless web of deserved trust and be careful whom we trust.”
Munger agrees with what I have called natural consequences, citing “late Columbia University philosophy professor, Charles Frankel, who believed ‘that systems are responsible in proportion to the degree in which the people making the decisions are living with the results of those decisions.’ …if you built a bridge, you stood under the arch when the scaffolding was removed.’”
–Warren Buffett’s business partner
Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman
Berkshire’s Radical Strategy: Trust – NYTimes.com.
Read more about the power of trust on this blog by clicking here.
The new chapter is a simple, practical guide to building better relationships at work and at home. The focus of the book is the importance of compassion and authenticity, while this new section is all about implementation, with specific advice on how to be compassionate and authentic in your day-to-day life.
This expanded edition also includes links to recommended books and articles for further study and practice.
Audio version read by Tony Mayo also available.
As I discussed in my popular article, Truth or Consequences: Beyond the Punishment Model, employers are too quick to act like cops with the result that employees respond like criminals. Here is more support for my advice, this time from a rigorous study of new restaurant software. Instead of using the software mainly to fire workers suspected of theft, all employees were made aware that the software was looking for misbehavior. The results were positive and–to those not familiar with my approach–surprising.
The same people who are stealing from you can be set up to succeed.
–Prof. Lamar Pierce
“The savings from the [monitoring software’s] theft alerts themselves were modest, $108 a week per restaurant. However, after installing the monitoring software, the revenue per restaurant increased by an average of $2,982 a week, or about 7 percent.
“The impact, the researchers say, came not from firing workers engaged in theft, but mostly from their changed behavior. Knowing they were being monitored, the servers not only pulled back on any unethical practices, but also channeled their efforts into, say, prompting customers to have that dessert or a second beer, raising revenue for the restaurant and tips for themselves.”