As business owners, we’re used to leading from the front, but it’s time we rethink our strategy.
A friend of mine is the fire chief of a local town near me. He’s an awesome person, a hard worker and always looking to strike up a conversation about my business.
He’s told me he values my insight because I’m an entrepreneur, but what he doesn’t know is I oftentimes learn from him, too.
For instance, he once shared a story with me about leadership.
During one of our conversations about managing and leading teams, I learned a little bit about how his firehouse operates during an alarm, specifically before leaving the firehouse.
Everybody has a designated spot on the Fire Engine.
For example, the captain sits in Seat One, reason being is the person sitting in this seat assesses the situation after arriving at the scene, so typically, this seat is reserved for higher ranked firefighters.
To many, this seat is somewhat of a status symbol. Many captains feel they’ve worked long and hard to get to ride in Seat One, so relinquishing the seat would be looked as a downgrade.
But my friend has a different take on Seat One.
He views Seat One as an opportunity for growth.
When he’s in Seat One, he asks his crew members questions about how they’d handle certain scenarios. Once he’s confident in someone’s decision-making abilities, he switches things up a bit: He places that person in Seat One.
He does this because he wants the best team possible, so to strengthen it, members of his crew need to feel what it’s like to make game-time decisions in oftentimes stressful situations.
(Think about it: If you're a leader in your organization, do you think a team member could ever fully understand your perspective or decision-making logic if they've never really sat in Seat One?)
His training is designed to teach not only his team members but him. Everybody has something to offer. We just need to take the time to listen.
After he shared this story with me, I reflected on my years in Seat One and thought about the countless MSP leaders and managers I've worked closely with over the years.
While there were times when many of them could’ve put others in Seat One, they didn’t.
Business leaders have a very tough time truly putting someone else in Seat One. It’s hard to give up control, especially when it’s your company, and you feel like everything’s on the line.
Sometimes, though, you need to go backwards to move forward.
If you’re not willing to give up seat one from time to time, all the responsibility will always be yours, and at some point, your business will get stuck and stay that way.
This lesson is hard to learn, and in full disclose, one I struggle with, but here’s the thing: If a fire chief who has lives on the line can step out of Seat One, shouldn't us entrepreneurs be able to?