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Crisis Leadership: Are You Always Putting Out Fires?

When I was in city management, I worked with the fire chief. A good fire chief knows how to put out fires.

When the fire truck arrives at the scene of the fire, everyone’s role has previously been defined. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do. There’s a “standard operating procedure” for just about every scenario.

At the scene of a fire, there’s no time for collaborative decision-making. When there’s a crisis, someone has to call the shots.

Crisis situations require decisive action. Someone has to lead.

On the other hand, the same characteristics of leadership in a crisis situation will be ineffective and counter-productive if there is no crisis present.

Top-down, authoritative leadership will squelch creativity and innovation. A lack of collaborative process will be stifling to other leaders.

When there’s no crisis, people expect to have input on decisions and freedom to use their gifts and talents. If they don’t have that opportunity to do both, they’ll either rebel or eventually leave.

Ironically, some people are leading like there’s always a crisis. That’s either a sign of poor planning, or it’s a sign of poor leadership.

Non-crisis situations require collaborative action. Someone has to lead.