Peter Sperry

I’ve spent most of my career as an advisor to leaders and have been surprised how often I have to remind them that if they do not get the day to day fires under control, they will not be around long enough to implement a strategic vision. One of the first things a new leader needs to do is prioritize the fires, identify good fire fighters, delegate the small or easily handled fires to subordinates (making sure every one in the organization knows the subordinate speaks with the leaders voice in regard to that particular fire), assign someone (usually an good advisor) to keep track of smoldering embers and take personal responsibility for the major blazes. If they do this quickly and effectively, they will build time to focus on long term thinking, personnel development leadership training etc. If they try to bypass this process in attempt to jump right into strategic planning, culture change, etc, they will either be continually pulled back into fire fighting if they are protected civil service or a fire they failed to deal with will suddenly flare up and hasten their transition to the private sector if they are an appointee or elected official.