Step up to three burners

I’m not sure if I have mentioned this here, but my wife and I have been doing a little home remodeling.  It’s been quite a learning experience, and it’s great to see it finally all come together.  For the latest on ‘As The Dirt Turns’, click here.

The reason I bring this up is this morning (after about 4 months) was our first real, home cooked breakfast in our new kitchen on a stove that works.  In our old set-up, we were down to one burner, a toaster oven and a microwave for all of our meals that didn’t involve a phone or leaving a tip.  We had gotten quite good at improvising and juggling multiple parts of a dish on one burner.

This morning, as we had THREE burners going at once, Linda said to me, “this is a lot like taking on a leadership role or more responsibility – you have a lot more to watch.”

Too true… in our old kitchen set-up, we could take our time, focus on one thing and make sure it was done correctly before moving on to the next step.  Now, it’s more about how many different things we can handle at once.  Sound familiar?

One of the biggest reasons that new leaders fail is that they are not equipped to handle the added pressure, visibility, and accountability of the role.  Like a cook with too many burners going, something is going to get forgotten… and likely burned.

Being overwhelmed comes from not knowing what to do, or even where to start.  Think of the things you are really good at… when someone asks you to do it, it’s no problem, you’ll get it done right away, piece of cake!  Contrast that with getting asked to do something that you have never done before, and you don’t even know where to start.  Cripes!

Now, compound that by the number of things a new leader might be asked to do that they have never done before. Easy to see how they can get “in the weeds”, as our friends in the restaurant biz say.

Unfortunately, the remedy to this situation is the one thing we seem to have less and less of… time.  Not just time to do stuff, but time to learn.  Time to teach.  Time to grow.

If you are a seasonal business, you may be thinking of next summer’s leaders for your facility – which is great.  Your next challenge is to think of the leaders for 2011.  But don’t wait for 2010… do it now! Think of ways you can expose those employees to the critical skills they’ll need BEFORE they are handed the keys and radio for real.  Maybe they can shadow a current Supervisor when handling a guest complaint or have them take a crack at preparing the weekly schedule.  Anything to increase their confidence, and decrease the chance of being overwhelmed.

Successful leaders not only lead right now, but also set-up their teams to succeed in the future.

Oh, and they don’t burn stuff.

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