The Fire Chief / CEO Mindset.
Many Fire Chiefs in small or mid-sized departments waste time on what I call $15 an hour work dealing with the day to day tasks like vehicle checks, chores and maintenance. Meanwhile, they forgo working on visionary work like professional development, or obtaining grants that could yield thousands of dollars to assist the operating budget. Time needed to build relationships with the right people, inside and outside the organization, to further advance the mission. I’m talking about selling your service, the cost vs. value matrix, negotiating contracts, and/or assessing how to maximize current or new revenue streams.
A lot of Fire Chiefs don't realize the 80/20 principle. The concept that 20% of the important or critical work equals 80 percent of your meaningful stuff. It applies to every dimension of business, especially in a service delivery organization. And that my friends includes your personal and professional time management.
Chiefs can be prone to rationalize, "I can do it myself." Then spend six hours trying to extract a virus from their computer, sending emails, dealing with vendors, delivering shift training, fixing a broken truck or leaky pump. Many may be competent to do the little jobs. You should be if you came up through the ranks. And at times probably lived doing everything yourself back when you were on the floor. But now you're doing a subordinates job, playing fix-it man and you're not doing your primary purpose which is keeping your players (members) and our customers (taxpayers) happy. That job pays $50 to $100 per hour for your expertise.
Many well intentioned chiefs have been bogged down by these little jobs... Why? Because those little jobs are comfortable; that’s what you know and have done your whole career. That said when someone discusses "time management," many immediately think response times, logs, daily to do lists, and ultimately how can I start checking boxes on the things I can get done list. Self gratification of completing these tasks drops a hit of dopamine. A natural feel-good chemical. And some like the feeling! But getting busy out in the floor is not what makes you the Fire Chief.
Chief Officers that shy away or see no real value in some of the toughest jobs of that position; like budgetary, reputation management, department marketing (social media) and public relations may have not been prepared for their new role. These are highly important things that many top-notch respected Chiefs see much value in. Here is an example: when an organizational grenade happens, falling back on staying busy may make them feel in control again but the real need is to develop a recovery plan for that grenade. It's almost impossible to delegate these critically important tasks to another person within your organization unless you have some speciality trained members, but instead of wasting your time on $15 an hour work, start focusing your time on the tasks that will increase your organizations value.
Often times as the go to guy your core personality may have been to complete tasks or functions. Let the leadership in your charge handle the day to day and stop micromanaging or sweating the small stuff. What you might find is a bunch of good people in your command, who are highly competent who will thrive and that time you saved will afford you a better opportunity to focus on the 20% of what matters!
Reach for the Sky!
Extreme Leadership - Developing High Performance Teams.
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