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Last year, I wrote an article entitled “The Five Dangerous Modes Leaders Assume in Business Management.” To recap, they are: 

• Fireman Mode

• Inertia Mode

• Endogamic Mode

• Excuse Mode

• Shortsighted Mode

I have since received numerous comments from businessmen from different countries. The vast majority of people who have read it indicated that they identify with one or more of these modes and expressed frustration about not knowing how to rid themselves of this behavior.

In a five-part series, I am going to take a deeper dive and provide recommendations for how to face each of these modes managers — and their teams — face that lead to inefficiency and chaos. Let’s start with the first mode: Fireman mode.

Often people end the day feeling that they have not completed their tasks satisfactorily because they have spent much of the time “putting out fires.” When fires are continually being put out, it is because there is no planning and no clear definition of the company’s goals and objectives. This means that everything often has to be improvised and that generates chaos. It also means employees are unable to focus on what is really important for the company. When it is the leader who acts as a firefighter, this can create even bigger problems for the team as a whole. Therefore, It is essential to solve this dangerous mode and put into place a clear definition of roles, responsibilities and priorities. It is an exercise of rigor and self-discipline.

To achieve this order, I recommend the following:

• Make time to map out a plan based on annual goals and objectives and allocate the company budget accordingly.

• Communicate the plan to the team to ensure each team member is clear on where the company is going, thereby reducing the number of “fires” and generating motivation and a sense of belonging to the group.

• Clearly define the responsibilities of each position and the associated performance measures.

• Create simple protocols for all phases of the value chain so that each employee knows their main obligations, resulting in a significantly reduced need to act in a firefighter mode.

• Make quarterly plans to set smart goals for each job in the short term so that each person reconfirms their priorities on a regular basis.

• Educate people on proper time management, teaching them to place on their agendas the tasks that really add value to their roles and therefore to the company. This can help employees form positive habits, effectively use their time, avoid unproductive tasks and, above all, move past the interruptions and duplications that these fires generate.

By following the recommendations above, tasks will cease to be as urgent because they have previously been defined, planned and assigned. As a result, the emergencies that are symptomatic of firefighter mode are reduced, generating greater productivity and minimizing stress.


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