As we grow as leaders we should realize that there are different types of leadership. Among these is lassiez faire. It may very well be the most difficult to master. Aside from authoritative leadership or democratic leadership, it is more hands off. When you have an efficient crew who performs well on most occasions, this can be the ideal form of leadership because it allows others to develop their leadership presence. However, the fine line is drawn between lassiez faire and lazy. While you may assume that you are effectively hands off, the perception of others is that you are lazy. This may not be the case, however once you receive the “lazy” moniker it may be hard to shake.
Some of our peers fall into the trap of adopting one leadership style and never varying away from it. This can be harmful not only to them, but to those that they supervise. It may limit growth and thinking and certainly will not promote the ability to perform at higher levels of responsibility. In particular, when utilizing lassies faire it should be communicated that you have intent to do this. It probably isn’t necessary to announce it every time you decide that it is the right method. But it should be explained to your subordinates that in the future you will be using this method from time to time or that you currently are, thus allowing them to understand it is their time to grow and adapt. They need to know you are still concerned and are keeping a silent, but willingly helpful, watchful eye. It may even be prudent to discuss this with your supervisor, so if they were to observe you for evaluation purposes, they understand that you are not lazy but rather performing a hands off leadership role.
If one isn’t careful, the lazy can creep in though. Whether it is intentional or not, the lazy may take over. Without some self-discipline the leader no longer may be willing to do the tasks that are asked of their charges. The leader may become recluse and out of touch with their people. A mentor once told me that “crews, who eat ice cream together, talk less at fires.” His reasoning is that bonding time allowed them to learn one another better and informally discuss job roles. Once on the fireground that translated to understanding their roles and being able to communicate better with one another, thus limiting what needed to be said. It certainly makes sense to me, whether it is ice cream on shift, a built in social time on certain volunteer drill nights (like a 5th Monday or once a quarter), or whatever time you feel it is best to build informal bonds, to pave the road to mastering the art of lassiez faire and combating the lazy trap.