This series of “Lessons from Al” is dedicated to the life and legacy of one of the most influential mentors in my life, career, and management, Al Berg.
Across many decades, I have personally observed one constant in the world of business. That constant is the paradox of change. It doesn’t matter whether the business is a major corporation or a start-up entrepreneurial endeavor – change is the common denominator.
The question for a leader, with regard to change is, “Are you going to be the firewood or the fire?”
Think about these two factors in relation to changes in the workplace.
If you are the firewood, you will be consumed by changes. You will find yourself in constant reactionary mode, falling farther and farther behind as the fire of change consumes you. You will have no direction and no options but to stay in one place and be the fuel for someone else’s fire. You will eventually burn out, and the fire will move on.
If you are the fire, you have power and direction. You move swiftly. You can be destructive, yes; but if channeled correctly, you can be used to move a locomotive.
Al taught me to be a channeled fire.
He recognized my natural inclination to be the fire, but he also knew the danger I could bring upon myself and others if that natural inclination were not harnessed and applied properly.
He also taught me the importance of igniting the spark in other leaders so they could propel themselves forward and not be consumed.
As a leader, my challenge to you is to channel the fire in yourself and others.
Here are some ways you and your team can channel the energy needed to power your organization.
Firewood: I don’t know how this crisis happened. What are we going to do?
Fire: Here is our strategic plan. Let’s proactively address any potential issues and obstacles before they happen.
Firewood: Expenses are high, and income is low. I don’t know how we are going to pay vendors and make payroll.
Fire: I will pull together a two-part task force: one to cut expenses; and one to create vision, opportunity, and income. Together, we will work out a plan that addresses both ends of the spectrum.
Firewood: Competition is tough, and margins are tight. We cannot compete on prices.
Fire: Where can we compete? We will offer impeccable quality and excellent customer service.
Firewood: Just tell me what to do, and I will do it.
Fire: Here’s what we could do to remedy the situation. Is this within the scope of my boundaries?
Firewood: I can’t do ____ because of ____.
Fire: I CAN do _____ as a matter of priority. And I will get help with the rest.
Firewood: How can we get by with less effort?
Fire: How can we serve with more impact?
Firewood: I can’t do it all, so I will just sit here.
Fire: I can take the first step. I will move forward with that.
Firewood: Here are the problems.
Fire: Here are some solutions.
Firewood: I do not want to change.
Fire: Change is inevitable; I will be its driver and not its victim.
Firewood: There is not enough time to do everything.
Fire: There is not enough time for ME to do everything; but with the right team and tools, almost anything is possible.
These are just some of the mindset shifts you can make to be fire that drives your business to success. Instill these in yourself and your team, as Al did, and you can create a powerful business.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.